8 Ball In The Wind

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Seattle Taxes Bi-Polar

It has long been said that the Seattle area politicians barely think twice before requesting a new tax increase to pay for their latest political cause, if they even bother to come up with a payment option at all.  Such as the $11 Billion increase in education spending, that has nothing in the way of actual funding for it in the state budget.  I find it somewhat ironic as well that while the Seattle based Democrats clamor for higher funding for education, they actually vote down an increase in funding for technical and science funding in state schools along a strictly party line in the House of Representatives.
Perhaps this is just the mentality that stems from something in the Seattle area itself.  The city prides itself on being an affluent and cultured metropolis.  Even with it's huge homeless and poverty stricken segments of population.  Drug use is rampant, and the city was one of the first in the state to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage.  Regardless of the effects that it has actually had on employees.  Is it partly because doing so gives the liberal upper classes in Seattle a strong sense of self-gratification for helping those "less fortunate"?  
That might explain why Seattle has the fourth harshest tax load on the lower classes in the nation, while having the fourth lightest tax burden on the middle and upper class within the city.  With those earning less than $25,000 paying 15.5% in taxes, compared to those earning over $150,000 paying only 5.5% in taxes.  Perhaps that is why the more affluent voters, who tend to be more inclined to participate in elections have allowed nine new tax hikes in just one term of their Mayor.  The lower income citizens most affected by these taxes, seemingly are either unaware of the heavier burden on their taxes, or possibly, too engrossed in just trying to survive in Seattle's high cost of living economy, and don't realize the effect not going to the polls may have for them.  For example; the 24 cent per can soda tax for education has a definitely heavier burden on lower income, as the upper classes tend to purchase more juices, and other drinks.
Perhaps another explanation for Seattle's bi-polar tax burden is the way these taxes are marketed?  The Mayor publicly announces a $55 Million a year program to fight homelessness, to be funded by property tax in a dramatic speech, then creates a task force to work out exactly how to fund the measure.  With about 7,000 homeless in Seattle itself, that comes to about $16,000 per homeless person, per year.  According to the Seattle Times, it will be one of the costliest programs ever proposed in the city.
The overall increase in property taxes may eventually begin to have a profound effect on Seattle.  As it is, many middle class residents are moving out of the city to relatively nearby areas due to the  growing tax rate.  Coupled with Seattle's high property assessments and property values for sales, many are finding bigger and better homes outside of Seattle for considerably less.  With the lower class earners begin to leave the city, or become homeless themselves because they can no longer afford to pay their rent and all the taxes, Seattle, and the region around it may find itself experiencing a drastic change in the way the city has to fund itself.  Going from being a euphoric upper class city to a financially depressed and tax crippled homeless shelter.
The truly sad thing is, that a large percentage of the politicians in Olympia come from the greater Seattle metroplex,  With them, they have brought along a similar mindset.  In a Senate Ways & Means Committee hearing on education spending, the top priorities that were brought forward were about increasing teacher; salaries, health care, retirement benefits, and reducing class size.  Students and their actual educational experience was far down on the list of priorities.  In committee hearing after committee hearing I have heard politicians and special interest groups requesting large increases in spending.  Many openly using the Mayor of Seattle's example of getting the spending approved, then trying to figure out how to pay for it.  Completely flipping the normal budgetary process on its head.
When the bubble bursts, there is going to be some serious Hell to pay.  Hopefully the burden will eventually be more equally balanced when it comes time to pay the piper, but I doubt if it will be.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

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