As the nation reacts to how wealthy people and corporations benefit from tax breaks, we at All In For Washington are taking this important conversation into our communities. Recently, we invited state legislative candidates in three cities to have conversations with local residents about how to ensure our communities have adequate investments to thrive. In Seattle, Spokane, and Kent, hundreds of people gathered to share their stories. (We’ll be featuring individual stories here in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for a deeper look.)
In each city, we shared what we see: that Washington is at a crossroads. We are nationally recognized as a place of innovation, open-mindedness, and a high quality of life. We have a vision of world-class public schools where children learn and play without language barriers for them or their families; plentiful career prospects and affordable college for young people; state-of-the art, accessible mental health care; and more.
The events featured teachers, parents, health care workers, students, faith leaders, and others talking about how the state budget impacts them. Eight legislative candidates attended in Spokane, three in Seattle, and one legislative staff member joined in Kent.
Susan Aigner with the Saltwater Church in Des Moines proclaimed at the Kent event, “Our vision is where we can all live happy and healthy lives. We want these values reflected in our tax code.”
Speakers also expressed their shared fear: we can’t achieve this vision unless we adequately invest in the foundations that allow us to enjoy our great state.
Presenter Ada Lin, a public health masters student from Seattle, reflected that without adequate investment, these essential foundations are pitted against each other. She asserted, “We shouldn't have to choose between clean air, beautiful parks, mental health care, and all our other priorities.”
But, speakers noted, these choices are forced on us by an upside-down tax code. Carolyn Holmes in Spokane related her shock when she realized, “Our current tax code results in working families paying a tax rate seven times higher than the richest households!” Karen Dorn Steele, co-chair of the Spokane Alliance, explained that “powerful special interests have manipulated our tax code to benefit themselves with tax breaks.”
We asked candidates to support two solutions to flip our tax code right-side up: eliminate wasteful tax breaks in our tax code, and tax the money made off investment income (capital gains). One by one, most candidate stood up and voiced their agreement with us. Representative Pollet struck a hopeful tone, saying “We can start to create the income equality we want to see across the nation.” And Representative Farrell urged, “Hold us accountable.”
We certainly will! Join us for a post-election meeting with decision-makers so we can urge them to be All In For Washington!
Note: Representatives Jessyn Farrell and Gerry Pollet, Senator David Frockt in Seattle; Lynnette Vehrs, Shar Lichty, Senator Andy Billig, James Apker, Representative Timm Ormsby, Representative Marcus Riccelli, and Randy McGlenn in Spokane expressed their support for our solutions. Third district candidate Laura Carder was also present in Spokane and expressed her wish to understand the issue more before committing her agreement. Kent area Senator Joe Fain’s representative invited the group to a meeting with the Senator in early December.