Years ago during an economic downturn grey suddenly was the trendy color in furniture, clothing... everywhere. A friend said, "don't you know? Grey is the color of reduced expectations". Today I wear grey. The peach shirt and inexpensive bangle earrings are for optimism and the hope of spring. Right now there is intense disagreement between elected senators and representatives who all believe they are acting on behalf of the people who elected them. It is not hard to understand why it takes a while to reach agreement. We have a little over a week to find a majority to agree on some of the following questions:
- Is it time to question some of the tax exemptions we have adopted to make our tax system more attractive or functional?
- We must assume the current flat revenue picture will remain for four years even though guaranteed to be inaccurate. What do we cut or postpone in order to accommodate this requirement?
- Does the cost of fires justify use of our rainy day fund or do we cut social services now?
We have a crisis in housing and homelessness. We know that half of the murdered women in Seattle last year were homeless. We know that homeless and hungry children can't learn. We know that housing makes it more effective and less costly to deliver addiction, health and mental health assistance. We know that some parents relinquish their children into foster care when they can't feed and house them. Do these issues justify some use of our rainy day fund?
Additionally, there is our paramount duty to educate the next generation and retrain those who have lost their work because of changing times. We have the most regressive tax system in the country, with about 700 tax exemptions on the books. We have an aging population that is downsizing rather than purchasing more taxable possessions with a tax structure that is primarily consumption based.
This morning the House Finance Committee is hearing bills related to tax incentives to create and preserve affordable housing. Afterward we may be approving 6 tax exemption removals that could help pay for the House proposed budget, and begins the serious discussion of what might actually happen.