NPI to Governor Inslee: Congratulations on your reelection; let’s get to work on progressive revenue reform

Election Postmortem

Though many ballots remain to be counted, it’s apparent that Washington Governor Jay Inslee has easily earned a second term this year, having convincingly defeated Republican challenger Bill Bryant. Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve released the following statement on the results of the November 2016 gubernatorial election in Washington.

“Congratulations to Governor Jay Inslee on resoundingly winning a second term as our state’s chief executive,” said Villeneuve. “We are honored to have the opportunity to work with Governor Inslee to raise our state and region’s quality of life for another four years. Nationally, the election was a catastrophe in many respects, but not here in Washington, where progressives causes and candidates did very well.”

Villeneuve urged Inslee to make progressive revenue reform an immediate and urgent priority, noting the Governor unveiled a number of compelling ideas two years ago in advance of the 2015 legislative session, including a capital gains tax.

“The people of Washington want our public schools fully funded, and they want the Legislature to raise revenue to ensure that happens,” Villeneuve said.

“We also badly need to invest in our mental health system, to ensure that people are getting the care they need. Poaching money from other essential public services for schools and mental health is not an option. Our research shows the people of our state understand the need for progressive revenue reform and want their elected representatives to act without further delay.”

Last June, a survey conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Northwest Progressive Institute found that 63% of likely voters agree that public schools are underfunded and that new state revenue is needed for public schools, while 65% support a capital gains tax on the wealthy to fund public schools and make Washington’s regressive, upside-down tax code fairer. (View the questions, the responses, and the methodology on NPI’s Cascadia Advocate).

More recently, the KCTS9/Crosscut Washington Poll asked a school funding question of its own, which mentioned the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, unlike our question, which deliberately left out any mention of the court’s ruling.

The Washington Poll asked: “In January 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund K-12 public education by 2018 by providing a total of $4 billion dollars in funding. Do you agree or disagree that the state Legislature should provide more funding to education?”49.1% of respondents said they strongly agreed, while 28.2% said they somewhat agreed.

In an email this morning, Donald Trump admirer Tim Eyman — who campaigned against Inslee’s reelection — sent out an email falsely claiming the election results show “there’s no public support — none whatsoever — for any tax increase, large or small.”

Eyman’s email today conveniently omitted any mention of any result that would contradict his narrative — such as the success of Sound Transit 3 or Spokane‚Äôs Public Transportation Benefit Area’s ten year plan. Both are passing, and both authorize increases in revenue to fund a useful and valuable public service — transit for all.

“Reporters who have been covering state politics for any length of time know that Tim Eyman can be counted on — in the wake of each and every election — to say ‘voters don’t want their taxes raised’, even while voters are doing precisely that,” said Villeneuve. “We have seen that voters in communities across our state will enthusiastically vote to sustain or raise state and local revenue when they can see where it is going and how it would be put to work to improve their lives.”

“Sound Transit 3’s approval nicely complements the passage of Connecting Washington last year. Governor Inslee and legislative leaders have acted on transportation and the voters have just given their work in that area a big thumbs up. Now we need to make raising revenue for our public schools our top priority. It’s our paramount duty and our kids have been waiting far too long for the Legislature to get its act together. No more excuses. We need progressive revenue reform now.”

“Eyman claims I-1464 and I-732 went down because one would have repealed a tax exemption and the other would have levied a carbon tax while reducing sales and B&O taxes, but what he’s not telling you is that a lot of people and organizations voted against those initiatives for completely different reasons.”

“At NPI, we urged a NO vote on both, having concluded that each had too many flaws to merit our support. I-1464 and I-732 were well intentioned, but didn’t meet our high standards, so we campaigned for their defeat. We still need to put a price on pollution and strengthen our campaign finance laws in addition to investing in our schools.”

“We look forward to seeing Governor Inslee’s proposed 2017-2018 budget and ask the Governor to once again call on the Legislature to levy a capital gains tax on the rich to fund our schools. The Legislature should also explore enacting a homestead exemption to reduce property taxes on low and middle income families while raising them slightly on wealthy households, to correct some of the imbalance in our tax code. And tax breaks that cannot be justified should be repealed to recover revenue for our state treasury.”

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