Friday, February 19, 2010


Sorry 2 havta get political on y'all, but this has bn buggin me 4 months....
THIS IS AN EDITORIAL. The opinions Xpressed below do not necessarily reflect the views of the Mployees of TAD's Back-Up Plan ... but they probly do. This editorial is about Washington state sales taxes & etc. We'll save an editorial on federal income taxes 4 a later time -- like when I actually have solid, scary #'s 2 work w/....
Washington's state budget 4 the new year has a $2.8-billion shortfall, & 2 recoup the $$$ Gov. Christine Gregoire has suggested new (or increased) taxes on cigarettes, gasoline, sodas, bottled water, candy, energy drinks, & bigger taxes on industrial polluters.
Washington already has some of the nation's highest taxes on cigarettes & gasoline, & possibly alcohol. In beautiful Wash., at my little store, a pack of Marlboro cigarettes will cost U $7.27 after the 8.9% state sales tax -- a case of double taxation. The state's built-in tax onna packa smokes is currently $3, & the Gov is suggesting raising it by another $1. A carton (10 20-cigarette packs) of Marbs will cost U over $60 after sales tax. In neighboring Idaho, where they don't have that built-in tax on smokes (or at least they didn't last time I was back home), a packa Marbs will cost U $3 less, almost 2 the penny. The cheapest pack of smokes in my store is $6.18 after tax. Compare that w/ where U live....
Last time I checked, Wash's built-in gasoline tax was 42 cents per gallon. It's probly higher by now. Which means a gallon of regular gas at my store will currently cost U around $2.83. Unless it's gone up 2day....
Why should I care? I'm still getting paid, right? & I don't smoke or drink, tho the gas tax gets EVERY1.
I care Bcos it all trickles down. I warn smokers when another price hike on cigarettes is coming -- I'm already warning them that smokes R probly gonna go up another $1 per pack. They usually don't pay a whole lotta attn til it happens, & THEN the bitching REALLY starts.
But they're bitching at the wrong guy. They needta go yell at those bozos down at the state capitol in Olympia.
If Gov. Gregoire thinks a 3-cent built-in tax onna bottle of soda or a penny-an-oz. tax on bottled water isn't gonna hurt NE1, she otta know better. She was the state's Attn Gen B4 she was elected Gov, so she knows how this stuff works: The tax goes up, the manufacturer raises his prices 2 recoup, the stores raise their prices 2 keep their profit, & U pay higher prices as a result.
& what's all that new tax $$$ go 4?
Wash started the Lottery & scratch-ticket sales 2 generate more $$$ 2 repair & build new roads & schools. I don't C that many major rd-improvement projects -- tho there was 1 on the rd right in front of my store last summer that did nothing but add a center-turn lane & a new surface over about 2 miles, did nothing 2 ease the massive traffic backup -- & it cost $3 million! & now the police R patrolling it heavily EVERY day & nite, writing speeding tickets 2 generate more revenue....
The only new school in Wash that I KNOW of that's bn built in the last decade was a brand-new highschool in Raymond, built 2 replace a non-earthquake-proof 75-yr-old 3-story structure from the early-1930s. It was cheaper 2 rebuild from scratch than 2 prop-up the old 1. & the new school was built in the Xact same spot, on a floodplain, right next 2 a river, 4 a student-body that had bn steadily Dclining 4 yrs, & probly still is.
The school cost $10 million. The state paid 4 about 1/2 of it, the school district passed a bond issue 2 pay 4 the rest. I was 1 of the guys who wrote local-newspaper articles Xplaining why the new school was needed, tho I didn't really Blieve it. But try 2 come out against a new school & a big Xpensive bldg project in a town that's dying & needs new jobs -- w/o Bing Cn as anti-school, anti-jobs, anti-community. U won't B living there 4 long. & if U R, nobody will speak 2 U NEmore.
& of course the new school looks XACTLY like a prison, as so many new schools Cm 2 these days. What in the heck R we saying 2 R kids?
1 of my roommates who both smokes & drinks & has there4 earned the right 2 complain about state gov't idiots, wonders how much U can legally tax 1 item. If the built-in tax on smokes is already $3/pack, how much higher can it legally go?
I think this is a legit question. Near as I can tell, Wash already has the 2nd-highest cigarette prices in the US, behind only New York state. As I've said 2 smokers so many times over the past few yrs, nobody zings U like Washington....
I'm more intrested in where the state's tax $$$ goes, & why they need so much, & always more more MORE.
At 1 point the Gov was projecting that the state's tax deficit might go as high as $10 billion+. With the economy in the toilet, tax revenues have bn slow 2 come in, people Rn't buying as much stuff so less tax $$$ is generated, & so on. When the deficit amount was reduced 2 $2 billion, there was apparently no Xplanation about where the other $8 billion went. The state also had a $2 billion "rainy day fund" a few yrs back. It's bn raining 4 months -- no idea where that $2 billion went.
More than NEthing, I wanna know where the LAST $10 billion we gave the state went. How R they spending R $$$? All on rd's & schools? Every time there's a really big road project, residents get taxed more 2 pay 4 it -- the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge (which we coulda had 4 free but we were 2 stupid), the proposed tunnel along Seattle's downtown waterfront 2 replace the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct, the proposed new State Highway 520 bridge across Lake Washington -- state residents will pay all new fees or tolls or taxes 2 build each of them.
Unlike some critics, I've bn 2 Olympia a few times, & I think there's a lotta unnecessary costs that could B cut there. I've bn inside the state Department of Ecology bldg, which has the most beautiful cafeteria I've Cn since I got outta the Air Force. It's a beautiful setting, really, a great place 2 eat lunch.
Why do they have it? They're a 2 MINUTE drive down the street from NE restaurant U'd ever care 2 have lunch at.
The Gov's staff has 2 many mgrs pulling down 2 much $$$ -- salaries at the highest level of state gov't have bn WAY 2 HIGH 4 YRS. They should all take a 10-percent pay cut 2 get us thru these tough times. The Gov should lead the way by Xample.
Don't hold yr breath 4 it.
As an alternative, I suggest the state close the Dept's of Ecology, Natural Resources & Fish and Wildlife. Closing those 3 dept's & firing the Mployees should save at LEAST $2.8-billion EASILY. & 1/2 of them have state pensions or retirements they can fall back on. In this state, the Dept's of Ecology & Natural Resources Xist only 2 tell people what they CAN'T do on their own property, & Fish and Wildlife has "managed" the wildlife in the state so horrendously badly (while also telling people what they can't do on their own property) that everybody goes 2 Idaho or Oregon 2 hunt or fish.
& buy cigarettes. Or other big-ticket items. Oregon has no state sales tax.
Why do I care about all this? I don't much, really. I'm not a home-owner, so I don't havta worry about rising property taxes while the value of my property goes DOWN. I don't smoke or drink, & I'm onna pretty limited income, tho the gas & soda tax gets me a little.
Washington state is so brutally, ruthlessly efficient about collecting child-support $$$, U'd think they could put summa that same ruthless efficiency in2 finding ways 2 save $$$ inside the state gov't.
(1 area that could use more efficiency is the food-stamp program. I don't doubt people need them, & every1 Cms 2 have a food stamp card under the current economy. But why is it almost EVERYBODY I C w/ a food stamp card also hasa wallet full of $50's & $100's, & is driving either a brand-new car or at least 1 WAY newer & better than mine? I wanna ASK some 1, but it's gotta B just the right person so they don't think I'm trying 2 imply NEthing ... Hey, I'm available 4 free $$$, I'm just not sure I wanna know how they got it....)
If I can get THIS upset about something that doesn't really hit me 2 hard, it must B so dead-obvious by now that 1000's should B protesting around the capitol bldg in Olympia. Why Rn't they? MayB cos life is hard enuf & Xpensive enuf out here that 1 more tax is just 1 more thing 2 shrug off.
There R already calls from some state politicos that now is REALLY The Wrong Time 2 talk about raising taxes again when the economy is still in the toilet & noises about "Recovery" sound like a cruel, MT joke. But don't Xpect those no-tax comments 2 amount 2 much....
The longer I live here the more I think Wash only hasa coupla good things going 4 it.
1 is that this is the only place in the country where I can do my current job & keep up w/ my bills. If I were 2 go back home 2 Idaho, I'd take a pay cut of over 1/2.
The other good thing is that it's the 2nd BEAUTIFUL day in a row & Spring MAY B here (tho it Cms 6 wks 2 early -- just the weather lining us up 4 a blizzard in March?), & I Cm revitalized by an NRG I haven't felt in mo's.
Hope U R the same, & sorry 4 the heavy serious real-life issues of 2day's post. We'll C if this really IS a free country or if the Powers That B try 2 shut me up....

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