Author Archives: Steve Zemke

Way Past Time to Pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution

It is disgraceful that the United States still has not passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.  Now in the Trump ERA seems the right time to renew the push to pass the ERA.  It is the right time to mobilize the American people and the energy and outrage at the backward efforts by Trump and the GOP to dismantle many safeguards and efforts of our country  to better the life of our citizens.  It is a question of human dignity and equality to say that All Americans regardless of sex shall be treated equally under the law.

As the New York Times write in an editorial entitled “The Equal Rights Amendment Returns”:

Having a sexist in the Oval Office who curries favor with conservative religious groups is having dire consequences. Health workers in developing nations are preparing for a rise in unsafe abortions due to President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule that prohibits federal funding of groups that provide abortion services or referrals. Here at home, his administration has been hostile not only to abortion access, but even to birth control.

But Mr. Trump’s presidency is also having some effects he probably doesn’t intend. Rage at the election of a man who boasted about grabbing women’s genitals helped set off the #MeToo movement’s reckoning with sexual misconduct. A record number of women are running for office around the country, many of them announcing their candidacies after participating in women’s marches the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

And now, on Mr. Trump’s watch, feminists could reach a goal nearly a century in the making, and that many assumed would never come to pass — ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. It states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Congress passed the ERA on March 22, 1972.  Three quarters of the states are needed to ratify a Constitutional Amendment. According to Wikipedia 36 states have voted to ratify the ERA.  Nevada did so in 2017.. Illinois is moving to becomes the 37th, with their Senate voting YES on  April 11, 2018 by a 43 to 12 vote.

As the New York Times article pointed out there are strong arguments to continue the fight to pass the ERA:

Looking at everything the E.R.A. would not do raises the question of why it’s still needed. Here’s why it is: The court decisions that make up the “de facto E.R.A.” can be undone in a way a constitutional amendment cannot. The E.R.A. would add an extra layer of legal protection for women — and men — against discrimination. This could become especially important if Mr. Trump gets to pick additional conservative Supreme Court justices.

There’s also a symbolic and emotional element to this fight that’s not to be discounted. Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who, before becoming a Supreme Court justice, fought many legal battles over gender discrimination and is a longtime supporter of the E.R.A. — summed up this argument in 2014.

“I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion — that women and men are persons of equal stature,” she said. “I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

Enshrining women’s rights in the Constitution matters. Doing so now, during this presidency, would be particularly fitting.

This is an issue that needs action and is long overdue.  States that have in the past voted in one House but not both include Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia. If Illinois does pass it then only one more state is needed. Maybe Virginia is a strong possibility with their recent change in their Legislature.

 

 

Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountabiliy Act – SB 5513

Testimony in support of SB 5513 – the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act

Washington State Senate Ways and Means Committee, Jan. 18, 2018

Steve Zemke – Tax Sanity

 Thank you for this opportunity to testify on this legislation.

This is the fifth year this bill has been before you and each year it picks up additional support.  Senate SB 5513 has 14 sponsors and its companion bill in the House, HB 1500, has 33 sponsors. This is almost one third of our state Legislators.  

 Legislation to create a Tax Expenditure Budget has been increasingly supported by numerous groups in our state, including the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, All in for Washington, the Washington State Labor Council, the League of Women Voters of Washington, Washington’s Paramount Duty, the Washington State Democratic Party, the Washington Education Association, SEIU 775, Northwest Progressive Institute, Washington Federation of State Employees, Washington State Council of Firefighters, Faith Action Network, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action,  and others

 Why are these groups supporting this legislation? Because they believe that a system of tax expenditures that gives away more in revenue from the tax base than it collects is a broken system.  They believe that tax exemptions need transparency and accountability and fairness. That does not exist now.

 Tax Exemptions, preferences, deductions, credits, and deferrals are off budget expenditures. They lack the transparency and accountably that exists for other expenditures the state makes as part of the biennial budget process. According to the Department of Revenue’s projection in their 2016 Tax Exemption Report for the 2015 to 2017 biennium they projected that while the state would collect some $7.4 billion in B&O taxes, they would exempt from the same tax base some $11.4 billion. This gap has widened since the last biennium.

Including the rest of the tax exemptions in their report, the Department of Revenue projected that off budget tax expenditures would total almost $40 billion while only collecting revenue totaling some $32.6 billion.

 Of the 694 tax exemptions in that report about 450 are discretionary.  The Department of Revenue projected that in the 2017 to 2019 Biennium that of the $54 billion in projected tax expenditures, some $30 billion would fall into “potential revenue gains”. 

 This legislation does not mandate wholesale repeal of tax expenditures.  It asks for accountability and transparency and biennial review and gives the legislature the ability to act to end exemptions if they do not meet the priorities of government the same as expenditures in the regular biennial operating appropriations budget must.

 Concern about the current system includes a quickly dated Tax Exemption report by the Department of Revenue that is only updated once every 4 years.  Most other states in the country update their report every 2 years or less. California updates their Tax Expenditure report every year.

Companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, Expedia, Adobe and Boeing all must report to their stockholders every year and issue quarterly profit and loss statements.  Their financial statements are scrutinized by their stockholders. It does not make sense that Washington State only updates its Tax Exemption Report every 4 years. It will next be updated in 2020. It should at a minimum be updated two years just as the state biennial budget is..

Only 73 of the 694 listed exemptions in the 2016 Tax Exemption Report have sunset provisions. This means 89% of the tax expenditures have no sunset provision and never require the Washington State legislature to ever vote on them again. Meanwhile all expenditures in the regular operating appropriations budget are scrutinized and voted on every 2 years with adjustment made in the 2nd year of the biennium.

 Also in the Tax exemption report, 54 exemptions are listed as “unable to disclose” the amount of revenue involved.  Businesses and other entities are benefiting from state tax law in getting exemptions and lower or no taxes. The public has a right to know the value of these exemptions. 

The public has a right to know that these exemptions are creating jobs or providing valuable services to Washington State citizens just as they expect expenditures in the regular budget appropriations bill to produce.

  We require that accountability in the regular budget appropriations process – we don’t say we’re spending state revenue but the public doesn’t have the right to know because the recipient doesn’t want us to know what they are getting.

 With the current lack of accountability and transparency and sound fiscal review and evaluation as to whether current tax expenditures meet the state priorities of government and have clear measurable objectives as to their effectiveness in meeting state needs, taxpayers and citizens in this state increasingly believe state government and the legislature are not doing their job.

.Please step up and vote to fix this broken tax expenditure system that severely lacks needed transparency, accountability and sound fiscal management of our total state budget.

 Steve Zemke

 Director Tax Sanity

steve@taxsanity.org

www.taxsanity.org

First Day Results for August 1, 2017 WA Primary – Legislative Races

Preliminary Results August 1, 2017 Primary – Washington State  Special Legislative races

Legislative District 7 – State Senator

Karen Hardy (D)     7,585    32.74%

Shelly Short (R)     15,579     67.26%

Legislative District 7 –  State Representative Position 1

Susan Swanson (D)     7,849     34.04%

Jacqueline Mayamber (R)      15,211     65.96%

Legislative District 31 – Senator

Michele Rylands (D)     6,331     41.45%

Phil Fortunato (R)     8,942     58.55%

Legislative District 31 –  State Representative Position 2 

Nate Lowry (D)     6,548     43.12%

Morgan Irwin (R)     8,636     56.88%

Legislative District 37 – State Senator

Rebecca Saldana (D)     12,356

Legislative District 45 – State Senator

Parker Harris (I)     1.620     6.86%

Jinyoung Lee England (R)     10,052     42.59%

Manka Dhingra (D)     11,9928     50.54%

Legislative District 48 – State Senator

Richard Knierim     (I)     2,284     15.98%

Patty Kuderer (D)     8,628     60.36%

Michelle Darnell (L)     3.392     23.66%

Legislative District 48 – State Representative Position 1

Vandana Slatter (D)     10,649     76.6%

Ciaran Dougherty (L)     3,253     23.4%

Updated results will be available from WA Secretary of State’s website          August 2, 2017 4:30 PM

Republican Senators in Washington State Legislature Block Passage of Capital Budget

Joint statement from Seattle State Senators last night

David Frockt       Reuven Carlyle  Jamie Pedersen Rebecca Saldana

Marilyn Chase Bob Hasegawa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — July 20, 2017
Failure to pass capital budget will hit Seattle communities hard
OLYMPIA — Seattle area state senators warned today that the Senate’s failure to pass a capital budget will have dramatic effects on proposed investments for the Seattle area in K-12 education, community colleges, housing and health care, including mental health, among other critical needs.
Though capital budget projects around the state were agreed to by Democratic and Republican negotiators on Tuesday, Senate Republicans continued to insist that a separate water rights bill be resolved first before they would agree to vote on the budget and its corresponding bonds. As a result, the Legislature adjourned from its third special session with no action on this vital budget that historically makes critical investments in Washington’s future.
The negotiated $4 billion dollar budget would have created thousands of jobs in all parts of Washington, including throughout the Seattle area.
The budget provided state matching funds for over $1 billion in school construction projects already approved at the local level, including at least $35 million for schools in Seattle, $15 million for Lake Washington School District and $8 million for Edmonds School District among others. Additionally, the budget provided for hundreds of millions of dollars in buildings for the higher education system from community colleges in this region to the University of Washington. At UW, the budget provided matching funds for the Burke Museum as well as the new Population Health Science building, leveraging the UW’s partnership with the Gates Foundation to make Seattle the world leader in global health. There was an additional $40 million to UW for advanced materials and clean energy test beds, the Evans School’s Parrington Hall, and renovation of the Medical School’s Health Sciences T-Wing.
The agreed-upon budget would have provided over $100 million for the Housing Trust Fund, including investments in local housing projects through innovative modular housing and tiny home projects to a new workforce housing development in Mt. Baker. It contained a first-of-its-kind investment in Community Health Centers to address Washington’s ongoing dental health crisis for the poor, who often lack access to dentists and wind up in local emergency rooms.
The budget would have built on the state mental health system by providing new facilities in a number of regions where the lack of treatment options is acute and where the state is under court order to find remedies. It would have invested in critical water infrastructure and flood control projects east of the mountains while also providing record investments in stormwater controls and conservation and restoration in the Puget Sound area.
“Having negotiated for the Senate Democratic Caucus and having reached across the aisle to reach an agreement on all of the proposed expenditures, I am very disappointed that this budget agreement was essentially held hostage to a resolution of a separate water rights bill,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. “I recognized that that was an important issue, but the fact is we just ended the longest session in Washington State history without a new biennial capital budget for the first time in decades. These two issues – the budget and the water rights bill — need to be delinked for the good of the entire state. That is what we are supposed to be doing. Regrettably, they weren’t delinked, even though there were solutions on the table that would have provided immediate relief for rural property owners to dig wells.”
“The governor has indicated an openness to a continued effort to resolve this impasse so that these critical investments in Washington can be made. I will continue to work with him and with both parties to get this budget passed and funded.” Said Frockt.
“The Senate Republicans have taken it upon themselves to deprive our community of important projects and economic development investments that our most vulnerable depend on,” said Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle. “From critical affordable housing for seniors and the homeless, to community and arts centers and parks, my constituents will feel the impact of the GOP’s inability to govern.”
“The failure of Senate Republican leadership to pass a capital budget is both disappointing and frustrating,” said Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle. “This reckless decision will prevent investments in schools, community healthcare, and the arts and cost thousands of jobs.”
“The Republicans’ refusal to allow the passage of this budget, approved by all but one Republican in the other chamber, is nothing less than a dereliction of their duties as public servants,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline. “They have committed to a course of action that will harm Washingtonians in every corner of our state.”
“Our infrastructure and quality of life will deteriorate, and all Washingtonians will share the pain to varying degrees,” said Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill. “It doesn’t make sense to hold a $4 billion jobs and infrastructure bill hostage for the right of developers to trump other people’s senior water rights.”
“I remain deeply committed to resolving this crisis, and finding a path forward in the weeks and months ahead,” said Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle “I was proud to have secured funding to reduce class sizes through school construction and am devastated the deal has fallen apart. I’m not giving up and will fight to secure these vital dollars. Our Seattle delegation is 100-percent on board to support a responsible capital investment budget.”
Had it passed, the budget would have funded these projects in in Saldaña’s 37th District:
 $3 million for Othello Homesight;
 $3 million for Aging in PACE;
 $2 million for Valley City Recovery Place;
 $1.5 million for the Amara Building;
 $1.3 million for the Multicultural Community Center in Seattle;
 $1.1 million to clean up Mt. Baker Properties for new housing;
 $750,000 for the Georgetown Steam Plant Historic Steam Plant;
 $737,000 for El Centro e la Raza;
 $600,000 for the Filipino Community Innovation Center;
 $520,000 to expand Pratt’s Campus
 $400,000 for Washington Care Services;
 $400,000 for Ethiopian Community Affordable Senior Housing;
 $360,000 for the Cherry Street Fellowship;
 $315,000 for Children’s Playgarden;
 $250,000 to increase dental clinic capacity via the Seattle Indian Health Board;
 $200,000 for the Seattle Indian Health Board; and
 $141,000 for the Mount Baker Community Club.

In Pedersen’s 43rd District, the budget would have funded:
 $1.855 million for the Country Doctor Community Health Centers;
 $1.5 million in renovations to the Asian Art Museum;
 $1.5 million for the Campaign for Town Hall;
 $1.5 million in improvements to Hugo House;
 $1.3 million for Neighborcare;
 $1.1 million to the University YMCA;
 $750,000 for upgrades to the 5th Avenue Theater;
 $643,000 for preservation of the historic University Heights Center;
 $600,000 for University YMCA;
 $500,000 to purchase the Lambert House;
 $491,000 for upgrades to the Paramount Theatre;
 $475,000 for redevelopment of the Arboretum Waterfront Trail;
 $354,000 for the Cornish Playhouse;
 $257,000 for Lighthouse No. 83;
 $257,000 for Phase Three rehabilitation of the Stimson-Green Mansion Building;
 $75,000 for NW Choirs;
 $29,000 to replace the deck of the MV Lotus; and
 $21,000 for Nikkei Herigate.

In Chase’s 32nd District, the budget would have funded:
 $50 million for the Dept. of Ecology for leaking tank model remedies at the Strickland Chevron in Lynnwood;
 $37.7 million for the Edmonds Community College’s Science, Engineering, Technology Building;
 $3.5 million for Allied Health, Science & Manufacturing in Shoreline;
 $2.8 million for an addition to the Public Health Lab South Laboratory;
 $2.5 million for an addition to a Newborn Screening Wing;
 $2.2 million for the South Snohomish County Community Resource Center in Lynnwood; and
 $650,000 to increase dental clinic capacity at International Community Health Services in Shoreline.

In Hasagawa’s 11th District, the budget would have funded:
 $7.5 million via the Department of Ecology for Floodplains by Design;
 $3.5 million in construction loans for the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station;
 $3.05 million for Sunset Neighborhood Park in Renton;
 $698,000 for roof repairs to the Museum of Flight;
 $500,000 to develop the Lake to Sound Trail;
 $500,000 for Geriatric Diversion;
 $412,000 for the Sunset Career Center in Renton;
 $11 million for conservation projects; and
 $2.6 million for Community and Technical College projects.

In Carlyle’s 36th District, the budget would have funded:
 $1.5 million for improvements to the Seattle Opera at the Center;
 $900,000 for improvements to Interbay PDAC;
 $400,000 in improvements to the Seattle Aquarium;
 $258,000 for renovations to the PONCHO Forum;
 $167,000 in improvements to the Millionair Club;
 $65,000 in improvements to the Seattle Opera; and
 $30,000 for renewal of the lower Yamasaki Courtyard.

In Frockt’s 46th District, the budget would have funded:
 $2 million for renovations at the Magnuson Community Center;
 $1.2 million for Lyon Creek Fish Barrier Removal at Lake Forest Park;
 $250,000 for improvements to Moorlands Park in Kenmore;
 $250,000 for improvement to the Kenmore Public Boathouse in Kenmore; and
 $75,000 for improvements to the St. Edward State Park Environmental Learning Center.

###
A list of all statewide and local capital budget projects is available upon request.
For information: Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569

Help Fund Public Education Now by Ending Tax Exemptions as Off Budget Spending

END TAX EXEMPTIONS AS OFF-BUDGET SPENDING
BY ADDING THEM AS TAX EXPENDITURES TO THE STATE BUDGET!

Washington State currently gives away more revenue from its tax base than it collects. This is a broken tax system built up over many years.  

The Washington State Department of Revenue in their 2016 Tax Expenditure Report  projected for the 2015 -2017 biennium that off budget tax expenditures would total almost $40 billion while only collecting revenue totaling some $32.6 billion.

We don’t generally think of them as such but these tax exemptions, preferences, deductions, credits and deferrals are off budget expenditures. They lack the accountability and transparency that exists for other expenditures the state makes as part of the biennial budget process.

The Governor must as part of the biennial budget process evaluate all expenditures according to a Priorities of Government protocol. Unfortunately tax exemptions do not have the same criteria or scrutiny. The result is that while the state legislature is seemingly unable to comply with  the Washington State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision to fulfill Washington’s “paramount duty” under the Washington State Constitution to fund public education, it excludes from tax collection billions of dollars.

Taxpayers deserve better accountability and transparency of the state’s  tax and revenue system. They deserve to know who is receiving these tax exemptions, how much money is involved and for what reason they are given. They deserve to have a system that prioritizes state needs, not exemptions for special interests and the wealthy that benefit from a system where 90% of the exemptions have no sunset provision while the state budget has a biennial review and vote as to funding.

According to the Washington State Department of Revenue’s  2016 Tax Exemption Study, while the State expects to collect some $7.4 billion in B&O tax revenue in the current 2015 -2017 biennium, it exempts from collection some $11.4 billion. When sales and use taxes were included with the analysis, the results are similar – the state expects to collect some $18.9 billion in revenue from sales and use tax, while exempting some $16.9 billion in revenue

Washington State has created some 694 tax exemptions over the years. Over 450 of these are discretionary tax exemptions, not required by Federal or State constitutional law. These discretionary tax exemptions will account for over $28.3 billion in B &O and sales/use tax revenue not collected in the current biennium..

Including property tax exemptions the 2016 Department of Revenue Report projects that in total, Washington State will see as off budget tax expenditures almost $40 billion in tax exemptions this biennium while only collecting revenues of $32.6 billion for the Legislature to fund its biennial budget.

HB 1500 introduced by Rep.Pollet and 32 other sponsors would require the governor to propose and the state legislature to adopt a Tax Expenditure Budget every 2 years as part of the biennial omnibus operating appropriations act. A companion bill, SB 5513 has been introduced in the WA State Senate by Senator David Frockt with 12 other sponsors.

HB 1500 / SB 5513 would give the Washington State Legislature an opportunity to periodically evaluate the need and effectiveness of the state’s tax exemptions in meeting current state needs. They would do this at the same time they are making budget decisions about prioritizing other state expenditures for public services as part of the biennial budget appropriations process.

What would HB 1500 /SB 5513 – the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act do?

 This measure would require new and existing discretionary tax exemptions to be authorized every two years in a tax expenditure budget. It will add much needed transparency and accountability to the hundreds of exemptions and preferences, along with their cost and how each decision to spend money on an exemption or preference is a choice to expend funds for this purpose with particular beneficiaries.

The tax expenditure budget would detail the fiscal impact, purpose, and effectiveness in meeting the purpose of each tax exemption.

 Tax exemption not included in the tax expenditure budget would expire at the end of the calendar year in which the budget is adopted.

Contact your Legislators at www.leg.wa.org and urge them to support the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act.

 Action item – Urging your Legislators to pass HB 1500 and companion bill SB 5513 is easy. You can leave them a message by going to www.leg.wa.gov, entering 1500 or 5513 for the bill number after clicking the bill information link and then clicking on “comment on this bill.” Or call the Legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message to for your legislators and the Governor to support HB 1500 and SB 5513 to prioritize state spending, accountability and transparency by creating a Tax Expenditure Budget as part of the biennial budget appropriations process.

Be sure to thank your legislators if they are a sponsor of this legislation. Their support is appreciated. Legislators sponsoring HB 1500 – Pollet, Farrell, Appleton, Tarleton, Ryu, Wylie, Santos, Marci, Doglio, Jinkins, Orwall, Tharinger, Stonier, Kagi, Fitzgibbon, Kloba, Stanford, Berquist, McBride, Ortiz-Self, Goodman, Dolan, Cody, Pettigrew, Riccelli, Sells, Hudgins, Kirby, Lovick, Frame, Peterson, Ormsby, Pellicciotti

 Legislators sponsoring SB 5513 – Frockt, Hasegawa, Miloscia, Rolfes, Saldana, Keiser, Wellman, Conway, Chase, Billig, Kuderer, Hunt, McCoy

For more information:Contact Steve Zemke – Director Tax Sanity, Steve@taxsanity.org,  www.taxsanity.org,  

Make Voter Registration Easier in Washington State

Action needed – Two bills currently before the Washington State Legislature will make it easier for voters to register to vote. They have both passed the House and have had a Hearing in the Senate State Government Committee but need citizen input now to get out of committee for a vote by the full Senate.  Please contact committee members and urge them to vote these bills out of committee. The deadline for bills that came from the other house to be voted out of committee is March 29, 2017.

HB 1468 – changes the deadline for voter registration from 29 days before the election to 11 days
HB 1513 – authorizes 16 and 17 years old to sign up to register to vote when they turn 18

Contact members of the Senate State Government Committee to vote these bills out of committee for a full Senate vote. Send an e-mail or call:

Mark Milosca – Chair    mark.miloscia@leg.wa.gov    1-360-786-7648
Hans Zeiger   hans.zeiger@leg.wa.gov    1-360-786-7648
Sam Hunt   sam.hunt@leg.wa.gov    1-360-786-7642
Patty Kuderer   patty.kuderer@leg.wa.gov    1-360-786-7694
Kirk Pearson   kirkpearson@leg.wa.gov     1-360-786-7676

You can also call the toll free  legislative hotline 1-800-562-6000 and leave messages for all of them.

Additionally you can contact your own State Senator and urge her or him to contact Mark Miloscia and Committee members to act on these bills. They need to hear from us. Click on the bill links and click on “Comment on this Bill” and it  will send your message to your  legislators.

www.majorityrules.org like on fb – majority rules

Eight Legislative Races on Ballot in Washington State in 2017

 

There have been a number of special  appointments to fill vacated Legislative seats this year in Washington. As a result there are 5 Senate seats and 3 Representative seats up for election in 2017  because appointments to fill vacancies must stand election at the next General Election.

This provides a unique opportunity for Washington State Democrats to pick  up the Senate seat in the 45th LD in NE King County. Democrats currently are in the minority in the Washington State Senate having only 24 seats to the Republican caucus having 25 seats. Republicans have 25 seats in their caucus because Senator Tim Sheldon, claiming to be a Democrat when he runs, actually caucuses with the Republicans, giving them 25 votes.

The special Legislative elections this year presents a great opportunity for the Democrats to take back the majority in the Washington State Senate.  Democrat Manka Dhingra recently declared she is running for the Senate seat in the 45th LD. Republicans appointed Dino Rossi, a former Legislator and Gubernatorial candidate, to this seat. He has said he was not running in Nov. although this could change considering the importance of this election.

Filing to run in these elections is May 15 -19th. The Primary is August 1st and the general election is Nov. 7th.This is a big opportunity for the surging grassroots opposition to Trump and the GOP  to make a big difference. It is also a chance to get ready for efforts for 2018  to train and challenge ways that grassroots activism can bring e a big change in 2018.

Democrats currently are only 1 seat away from a majority in the Washington State Senate. But they are also only 1 seat away from Republicans controlling the House. Democrats need to increase their numbers in both Houses to be effective and push their legislation.  This year Democrats can start the necessary work now to join California and Oregon in having strong majorities in our Legislature and being able to move forward on the state level to oppose efforts nationally by Trump and the GOP to move our progress backwards. 

List of Legislative races and appointments to the seats:

7th LD Senate – Shelly Short (R)
7th LD House – Jacqueline Maycumber (R)
31st LD Senate – Phil Fortunato (R)
31st LD House – Morgan Irwin (R)
37th LD Senate – Rebecca Saldaña (D)
45th LD Senate – Dino Rossi (R)
48th LD Senate – Patty Kuderer(D)
48th LD House – Vandana Slatter (D)

No Democrats have yet filed to run in the 7th or the 31st races. Republicans will field a candidate in the 45th for sure as well as the 2 seats in the 48th. It is expected that these will be very intensive campaigns with lots of money flowing to both Republicans and Democrats.  Expect that out of state funds from right wing entities like the Koch Brothers will show up.

We need to have Democrats running in every seat – Republicans should have no free ride. And in all these races Democrats can start now registering voters and starting voter contacts to id voters likely to vote Democratic. Marching can get people energized – grassroots organizing is where we make a big difference by changing who’s in charge.

See also  Daily Kos  – Huge – Democrats finally have a chance to take back the Washington State Senate – and turn the State blue.

What happened? What do we do now? Living in Trumpland

For many here is America, the world has changed. They have woken up in a strange land called Trumpland. Democrats, progressives, liberals, independents and even some Republicans are asking what the hell happened.   How did we get here and what do we do now? Below is some recommended reading that attempts to give some insight as to this new reality that has set in. Suggestions are offered by some as to what to do. This is an ongoing search for answers. I will add new articles as they emerge.

Indivisible Guide –  A Practical Guide for resisting the Trump Agenda   has been written by former Congressional staffers, Jan 2017. They give suggestions based on the success of the Tea Party as to how Progressives can fight back, to limit the negative impacts of the GOP and Trump. They also provide links to Indivisible groups that have formed across the country.

‘Data-driven’ campaigns are killing the Democratic Party. Politico Feb 12, 2017  – This article argues that data driven campaign over the last 4 cycles have resulted in catastrophic losses for Democrats.  It urges connecting with voters through storytelling, having a clear message that reaches voters on an emotional level.

A Low Tech Guide to Becoming Politically Active, New York Times, Feb 8, 2017 – Lots of good advice here – the title in the print edition is “How to Turn Your Facebook Rants Into Real-Life Activism”

How to Build an Autocracy, Atlantic March 2017  – Good discussion of the ways Trump and Bannon are working to convert our democracy to an autocracy that benefits the wealthy.
David Frum – “What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, lead by rulers based on greed…Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-option of elites.

What Effective Protest Could Look Like, Atlantic, Feb 6, 2017 –  “Perspective From the Right, for Effective Challenge From the Left

Post-Fascist Europe Tells Us Exactly How to Defend Our Democracy -Yes Magazine Jan 13, 2017 – “Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are 20 lessons from the 20th century, adapted to the circumstances of today.”

10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow, Bill Moyers, Jan 13,2017  – “Here are some new organizations to follow as well as a few established ones  that are working to uncover the truth.

A Guide for Rebuilding the Democratic Party from the Ground Up, VOX, Jan 5,2017 -“Organizationally, the US right is light years ahead of the left. A leading political scientist explains what Democrats should do to change that”

To Stop Trump, Democrats Can Learn from the Tea Party, New York Times, Jan 2, 2107 –  Op-Ed – “The Tea Party’s ideas were wrong, and their often racist rhetoric and physical threats were unacceptable. But they understood how to wield political power and made two critical strategic decisions. First, they organized locally, focusing on their own members of Congress. Second, they played defense, sticking together to aggressively resist anything with President Obama’s support. With this playbook, they rattled our elected officials, targeting Democrats and Republicans alike.”

The Democratic Ggame Plan for Making Trump Miserable – and Regaining Power,  New York Magazine, Dec. 23, 2016

What Those Who Studied Nazis Can Teach Us About the Strange Reaction to Donald Trump, Huffington Post Dec 19, 2016 – “While its Important to watch the President Elect Closely, We also Must be Mindful of Our Own Response to Him.”

Why the Electoral College is the absolute worst, explained, VOX, Dec 19, 2016  –  The Electoral College is a rigged archaic voting system that violates the one person, one vote 1962 Supreme Court Decision that changed state elections..

99 Ways to Fight Trump, Do One, Do them all, But do Something

Steve Bannon and Breitbart News, in their own words, New York Times,  Nov 14, 2016 – Bannon and Breitbart News in their own words – necessary reading to help understand the man behind Donald Trump.

Trump’s Choice of Stephen Bannon Is Nod to Anti-Washington Base, New York Times , Nov 14, 2016 – ” In naming Stephen K. Bannon to a senior White House post, President-elect Donald J. Trump has elevated the hard-right nationalist movement that Mr. Bannon has nurtured for years from the fringes of American politics to its very heart, a remarkable shift that has further intensified concern about the new administration’s direction.”

Steve Bannon, Trump’s Top Guy, Told Me He Was a ‘Leninist” Who Wanted to ‘Destroy the State’, TheDailyBeast.com,  August 21, 2016, – When the President’s top advisor’s goal is to tear America apart not build it up we as a nation are under siege. That is what is happening now.
Daily Beast – “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed. Shocked, I asked him what he meant. Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Bannon was employing Lenin’s strategy for Tea Party populist goals. He included in that group the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as the traditional conservative press.”

Uneasy About the Future, Readers Turn to Dystopian Classics, New York Times, Jan 27, 2017 – Big surge in dystopian classics happening as people buy copies of Margaret Atwood’s Tales of a Handmaid, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, and Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. Not surprising considering what is happening.

Shape Tomorrow, Register and Vote –  the Democrats’ Sleeping Giant – Down with Tyranny, Jan 18,2017  – Case Study on successful impact of registering people to vote.

Autocracy , Rules for Survival, New York Review of Books, Nov. 10, 2016, – “But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election. Trump will be only the fourth candidate in history and the second in more than a century to win the presidency after losing the popular vote. He is also probably the first candidate in history to win the presidency despite having been shown repeatedly by the national media to be a chronic liar, sexual predator, serial tax-avoider, and race-baiter who has attracted the likes of the Ku Klux Klan. Most important, Trump is the first candidate in memory who ran not for president but for autocrat—and won.”

End Tax Exemptions as Off Budget Spending by Adding Them to the State Budget

 End Tax Exemptions as Off-Budget Spending

by Adding Them as Tax Expenditures to the State Budget!

Washington State HB 1500 -the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act of 2017 will have a hearing in the State House Finance Committee on Tues. Jan 31st.  Please attend the hearing or comment on the bill on line at leg.wa.gov.

 Why is HB 1500 needed?

We don’t generally think of them as such but tax exemptions, preferences, deductions, credits and deferrals are off budget expenditures. They lack the accountability and transparency that exists for other expenditures the state makes as part of the biennial budget process.

Taxpayers deserve to know who is receiving these tax exemptions, how much money is involved and for what reason they are given.

According to the Washington State Department of Revenue’s  2016 Tax Exemption Study, while the State expects to collect some $7.4 billion in B&O tax revenue in the current 2015 -2017 biennium, it exempts from collection some $11.4 billion. When sales and use taxes were included with the analysis, the results are similar – the state expects to collect some $18.9 billion in revenue from sales and use tax, while exempting some $16.9 billion in revenue

Washington State has created some 694 tax exemptions over the years. Over 450 of these are discretionary tax exemptions, not required by Federal or State constitutional law. These discretionary tax exemptions will account for over $28.3 billion in B &O and sales/use tax revenue not collected in the current biennium..

Including property tax exemptions the 2016 Department of Revenue Report projects that in total, Washington State will see as off budget tax expenditures almost $40 billion in tax exemptions this biennium while only collecting revenues of $32.6 billion for the Legislature to fund its biennial budget according to the Department of Revenue.

HB 1500 introduced by Rep.Pollet and 32 other sponsors would require the governor to propose and the state legislature to adopt a tax expenditure budget every 2 years as part of the biennial omnibus operating appropriations act. A companion bill, SB 5513 has been introduced in the WA State Senate by Senator David Frockt with 12 other sponsors.

HB 1500 / SB 5513 would give the Washington State Legislature an opportunity to periodically evaluate the need and effectiveness of the state’s tax exemptions in meeting current state needs. They would do this at the same time they are making budget decisions about prioritizing other state expenditures for public services as part of the biennial budget appropriations process.

What would HB 1500 /SB 5513 – the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act do?

 This measure would require new and existing discretionary tax exemptions to be authorized every two years in a tax expenditure budget. It will add much needed transparency and accountability to the hundreds of exemptions and preferences, along with their cost and how each decision to spend money on an exemption or preference is a choice to expend funds for this purpose with particular beneficiaries.

The tax expenditure budget would detail the fiscal impact, purpose, and effectiveness in meeting the purpose of each tax exemption.

 Tax exemption not included in the tax expenditure budget would expire at the end of the calendar year in which the budget is adopted.

Contact your Legislators at www.leg.wa.org and urge them to support the Tax Exemption Transparency and Accountability Act.

 Action item – Urging your Legislators to pass HB 1500 and companion bill SB 5513 is easy. You can leave them a message by going to leg.wa.gov, entering 1500 or 5513 for the bill number after clicking the bill information link and then clicking on “comment on this bill.” Or call the Legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message to for your legislators and the Governor to support HB 1500 and SB 5513 to create a tax expenditure budget as part of the biennial budget appropriations process. And be sure to thank your legislators if they are a sponsor of this legislation. Their support is appreciated.

 Legislators sponsoring HB 1500 – Pollet, Farrell, Appleton, Tarleton, Ryu, Wylie, Santos, Marci, Doglio, Jinkins, Orwall, Tharinger, Stonier, Kagi, Fitzgibbon, Kloba, Stanford, Berquist, McBride, Ortiz-Self, Goodman, Dolan, Cody, Pettigrew, Riccelli, Sells, Hudgins, Kirby, Lovick, Frame, Peterson, Ormsby, Pellicciotti

 Legislators sponsoring SB 5513 – Frockt, Hasegawa, Miloscia, Rolfes, Saldana, Keiser, Wellman, Conway, Chase, Billig, Kuderer, Hunt, McCoy

  For more information:

Contact Steve Zemke – Director Tax Sanity, steve@taxsanity.orgwww.taxsanity.org,  

cross posted at TaxSanity.org

On Ignoring Trump’s Tweets – Time to Attack GOP’s Bad Policy Proposals

It’s time for Democrats and others who do not support Trump’s proposed agenda and that of the GOP that now controls Congress, to start talking about the issues facing our country. Many of the programs and laws that progressives have put in place to help people and make America a better place to live are now  under threat of being reversed and lost.

It’s time to stop responding to Trump’s inane and diversionary tweets (and other comments) as Jack Shafer on Politico writes in a post entitled “Stop Being Trump’s Twitter Fool” As Shafer says:

“By this time you’d expect that people would have figured out when Donald Trump is yanking their chain and pay him the same mind they do phone calls tagged “Out of Area” by Caller ID. But, no. Like Pavlov’s dog, too many of us leap to object or correct the president-elect whenever he composes a deliberately provocative tweet …”

It’s time to refocus on America and protecting the advances made by Democrats over the years. Trump has dominated the media for the last year and a half with his reality TV show hype and rant. The media was taken in by it as well as the Democratic Party. He has snookered many Americans into voting for him based on short soundbites that says little about what he would do.

We do know however the broad outline based on years of right wing proposals in Congress and Trump seems to be in the their camp on most of these proposals. Have no doubt –  the agenda of the far right, the tea party and GOP conservatives will be advancing through Congress now with Trump winning the Presidency and Republicans controlling both the US House and US Senate. There is no sense that the Republicans will be restrained or reasonable in their moving forward. And there is no longer someone in the White House to veto their proposals.

It’s time to now aggressively go on the offense and work to change the discussion to where they are vulnerable. It’s time, for example,  to emphasize how they are threatening human health and our planet by proposing to ignore or reject the Paris Climate Agreement. We need to aggressively reduce carbon pollution, not work to produce more while enriching coal and oil companies and  generating more pollution. We need to shift to a post carbon economy.

Push them on the national minimum wage not being raised because of Republican opposition since 2009, stuck at $7.25 and no automatic adjustment for inflation. The current minimum wage is a starvation wage, not a living wage. It is an affront to human dignity and decency and Republicans should be ashamed. Push for a $15/hour minimum wage.

Talk about how cutting taxes for the wealthy like the inheritance tax and income taxes is just going to further increase income inequality. The country more and more is a plutocracy where a wealthy few are running it. Electing a so called billionaire who has used the anger of working families to get elected by offering them change he never really defined is a recipe for being hoodwinked.

Talk about how their continuing to propose to privatize medicare and social security will hurt millions of low income people. That is not caring for working families – it is merely following the agenda of those that want to extract more profit for the few at the top of medical corporations and pharmaceutical companies. Health care is a human right and should not turn wage earners into pawns to extract money from to further enrich the wealthy.

Talk about how Democratic economic policies will help working families while Trump’s are focused on helping the already wealthy 1% and corporate America.

Talk about how to educate our children, not make schools into profit machines to enrich the few by using public money for private schools and charter schools.

The change we need is to talk about the impact of his proposed policies, not his personality since we’ve seen that is not effective even if what is said is true. Talk about how Democratic polices  make life better for working families while Republican policies have been a driving force for wealth creation by the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

It’s time to move forward  by emphasizing where the GOP and Trump are  not helping working families. Do this by proposing an aggressive agenda to raise the minimum wage, push for Green jobs and protect public health and safety and welfare from corporate greed.

If Congress won’t do this then work at the state and local level to push these issues and involve the public in building  support for voting the GOP out of Congress in 2 years and replacing them with Democrats who really are working to help the people of America.

It’s time to get to work!