Small business owners, teachers, home health care workers, law enforcement, nurses and many more Washingtonians of all walks of life came to Olympia on Monday to advocate for one thing – fair taxation.
Citizen representatives from all 49 legislative districts each spoke briefly on the need to reform Washington’s broken tax structure, which was yet again ranked as the most unfair in the country earlier this year by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
Washingtonians who make the least – the poorest 20 percent – pay 17 percent of their income in taxes. Middle class Washingtonians pay 10 percent, while the richest one percent pay less that two and a half percent.
“Washington’s outdated and unfair tax structure is in dire need of a makeover,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, one of more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers who were in attendance for Monday’s hearing. “It is unconscionable to continue to prop up a system that asks more and more from people who are barely getting by, while at the same time giving away millions in tax breaks and asking for very little from the super wealthy. We’re not trying to punish anyone, but it’s not unreasonable to ask those who have been very financially successful to pay their fair share.
“We are all in this together and it’s time we had a tax structure that reflects that.”
Each person who testified told a story about the difficulties they face or have overcome. Several people talked about state services helping them win the battle against drug abuse or care for a sick loved one. Others talked about the need to invest more funding in our crowded schools or bring tax relief for small businesses.
Most offered petitions signed by hundreds of people from their home districts, advocating for tax reform and the passage of a capital gains tax which would tax the sale of stocks and bonds.
“Paying more in taxes is going to help a lot more people than it is going to hurt us,” said Steve Rubenstein, a self-proclaimed two or three percenter from the 1st Legislative District.