UPDATED The Kirkland City Council is planning to hold public hearings to consider resolutions regarding ballot measures this November: King County Proposition No. 1, and Initiative 1053. Proposition No. 1 would be helped by the City of Kirkland's endorsement. The city would be opposed to Initiative 1053. If passed in November, one would be a tax increase, and the other would limit tax increases by the legislature in Olympia.
King County Proposition No. 1 If passed, Prop. 1 would impose an additional sales and use tax of 0.2%, split between the county (60%) and cities (40%). At least one-third of all proceeds would be used for criminal justice or fire protection purposes. It is easy to see why city employees, police and fire would support such a measure. If passed, elected officials would be able to ignore or delay necessary spending cuts because additional revenue would be flowing into city coffers.
Initiative 1053 If passed, Initiative 1053 would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two0thirds majorities of both the State House of Representatives and State Senate or receive voter approval. The initiative would also require majority approval from both houses of the legislature to impose or increase any fee. If this one sounds familiar, it is. Voters approved a two-thirds requirement in 2007, only to see it repealed by the legislature during the 2010 session.
What is most disturbing about the proposed Kirkland City Council positions on these measures, is the message sent to the average tax payer: We want you to pay more in taxes so we don't have to make tough decisions regarding the budget. Your family budgets need to be tightened because we think we can spend your money better than you.
Tax increases during a severe recession are irresponsible. Tax increases drain money from the private sector to feed the public sector. When the economy needs it the most, government takes money out of the system. The free market economy creates wealth. Government cannot create wealth. Government can only redistribute wealth. The local economy needs families spending their money locally. Higher taxes leaves families with less discretionary spending, taking money out of our local economy.
The average tax payer is looking at tax increases from all levels of government. More money is "needed" by government because those in charge are not willing to live within their means. Politicians look to raising taxes so they don't have to make spending cuts. Family budgets do not have such luxury.
Any student of Kirkland's budget process can tell you that there is one constant which remains year after year: Whenever taxes increase, spending increases. This is the case in both good times and in bad. It takes great courage for elected officials to buck the vote yes for every tax increase mentality in the halls of government.
It should take no courage for elected officials to defend the average tax payer from further hardship during this recession.
The Kirkland City Council should think of the average tax payer first, and cut spending first before they ask us to pay more in taxes.
That is my opinion. I welcome yours.