Monthly Archives: April 2015

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    Legislature passes Chase bill to protect ratepayers’ voting rights

Legislature passes Chase bill to protect ratepayers’ voting rights

April 21st, 2015|

A bill to ensure that voters in a water or sewer district retain ultimate control over whether a city or town can assume jurisdiction of their district passed the Legislature today and will be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

“These special-purpose districts are created by a vote of the people, for the people. As such, 100 percent of the taxes we pay for our water and sewer systems should be dedicated to providing the services and maintaining the system,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline and the sponsor of Senate Bill 5048. “These funds should not be diverted, or ‘repurposed’ for other uses such as new developments or other non-water-sewer projects unless the voters approve.”

SB 5048 would let voters call for a referendum on any attempt by a city or town to assume jurisdiction of all or part of a water or sewer district. As with other special-service districts such as fire districts or school districts, rate payer revenue must be spent solely for the purposes of the special service districts. Utility districts assess and adjust rates to provide for maintenance and service as necessary but may not assess additional taxes for the service.

However, if a city assumes ownership of a water or sewer district, the city may levy taxes without limits, without restrictions on what the funds are used for, and without a vote of the citizens who voted to create the district. Water and sewer districts are the only special service districts that do not have a cap on the taxes that can be levied if these districts are assumed by a municipality.

Utility taxes are among the most regressive taxes levied on citizens, Chase noted. Water and sewer are basic necessities and low-income rate payers have no choice in accepting or refusing service or paying the ever-increasing taxes.   For example, low-income working families pay 17 percent of their income in taxes compared to wealthy families who pay only 2.8 percent.

“I had hoped to make this legislation retroactive to give the taxpayers of Shoreline a say in what was forced on them a year ago, but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough support for that component,” Chase said. “Still, now other communities now possess a means of protecting their districts from overreaching cities and towns.”

Chase bill would tax wealthy, ease burden on middle class

April 17th, 2015|

Washington state would take a bold step forward in correcting its notoriously regressive tax structure through legislation introduced today by Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline.

Senate Bill 6111 would eliminate the tax exemption on intangible personal property and the business and occupation tax exemption on investments and dividends, exemptions that benefit the wealthiest 1 percent of Washingtonians at the expense of the middle class, the poor, and school children.

“This is only a beginning to fix our upside-down tax system, but it’s a beginning,” Chase said. “This legislation says to all Washingtonians that we recognize that our state places a disproportionate and unjust tax burden on the middle class and the poor, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore.”

Washington’s reliance on a sales tax means that middle-class and lower-case households pay more than 10 percent of their net income in state taxes, while the wealthy pay less than 3 percent of their income in state taxes, Chase noted.

“This egregious disparity in taxation runs contrary to Article VII of the state Constitution, which requires a uniform system of taxation,” Chase said. “Our Constitution requires that the distribution of the burdens of taxation be uniform.”

Chase noted that intangible wealth, such as stocks and bonds, has come to represent more than half of all property wealth that has a taxable location in Washington state.

“Taxing tangible property while exempting intangible property stacks the deck in favor of the richest residents and businesses while forcing middle-class households to carry the bulk of the load,” Chase said. “It’s time for the wealthiest Washingtonians to begin to pay their fair share. I look forward to a stirring debate and a robust fight.”