In a commentary in the Olympian, former state Supreme Court chief justice Gerry Alexander and Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby make the case against Initiative 1, which would establish an income tax in the city.
It asks Olympia residents to approve a 1.5 percent income tax on household incomes over $200,000 to pay the equivalent of a year’s community college tuition for high school graduates and GED earners.
But this is not about going to college; it’s about going to court — at the city’s expense — to see whether the current state Supreme Court will overrule past decisions declaring that a graduated income tax such as this one is unconstitutional.
After that setup, they point to several substantive problems: it the measure passes, the city would be required to go to court to defend it at taxpayer expense; state law prevents cities from collecting an income tax; and, the IRS cannot share income tax data with cities, which means the city would have to set up a bureaucracy to obtain and process tax returns. There’s more, including this:
…Olympia is not an island with captive taxpayers. Passing an income tax would create an incentive for affluent families to settle in Lacey, Tumwater or in unincorporated parts of the county.
Olympia voters know Initiative 1 is the right thing to do by creating an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few — in fact, a recent poll by Patinkin Research Strategies on behalf of Opportunity for Olympia shows more than 60 percent of us support this citizen-led proposal.
Initiative 1 provides our students with more opportunities to succeed through access to community college and job training. And it ensures the wealthiest 3 percent pay their fair share, without increasing fees for city services or burdening low- and middle-income families. Olympia will become a better place to live, to open a business or to raise a family.