Morning Fizz

Paying Almost $328 Million in State Taxes

By Morning Fizz April 19, 2011

1. As the state budget saves money by singling out undocumented immigrants, here's something to note: Washington State is one of the top ten states in tax revenue receipts from households headed by unauthorized immigrants. Undocumented immigrants paid almost $328 million in state taxes in 2010, according to the Immigration Policy Center, including nearly $23 million in property taxes and $305 million in sales taxes.

Washington State is ninth on the list of states when it comes to the amount of taxes undocumented immigrants pay (the total is about one percent of our budget). Arizona ranks eighth.

2. At the behest of city council member Nick Licata, the council delayed a vote yesterday on a proposal to upzone the Pioneer Square neighborhood to allow buildings as tall as 150 feet in some areas. In the council's Committee on the Built Environment last week, council members voted down a proposal by committee chair Sally Clark to roll back the maximum heights to 120 feet; that motion failed 2-2, with Clark and council member Mike O'Brien voting for the amendment and council members Tim Burgess and Sally Bagshaw voting against.

Licata, who's out of town, wanted to vote for the lower height limit, which could pass narrowly next week with his support.

[pullquote]Council member Sally Clark added, "I can see how the mayor would like to accelerate" rail, but "it seems like a great thing to talk with Sound Transit about, rather than having that borne by just city of Seattle taxpayers."[/pullquote]

3. On the Seattle Channel's "City Inside/Out" last week, city council members ripped in to a proposal by Mayor Mike McGinn to accelerate a study of light rail to Ballard and West Seattle, with the goal of funding those lines through a Seattle-only tax. Saying that they didn't hear about the mayor's proposal until they read about it in the newspapers, council members argued that big infrastructure projects like rail should be funded regionally, not at the city level.

"I'm hopeful that when the mayor has these ideas, that there's more conversation, rather than us just reading about it in the newspapers," council member Bruce Harrell said. Council member Sally Clark added, "I can see how the mayor would like to accelerate" rail, but "it seems like a great thing to talk with Sound Transit about, rather than having that borne by just city of Seattle taxpayers."

Last week, McGinn outlined his support for Seattle-only light rail in PubliCola's ThinkTank.

4. Speaking of ThinkTank, it's Tuesday—which means we've got our latest installment queued up and ready to go. Today's PubliCola ThinkTank features op/eds by Steve Mullin, the President of the Washington Roundtable (the business advocacy group made up of the state's top CEOs) and Justin Fox-Bailey, a Snohomish high school English teacher and local teachers union president.

Riffing off Mullin and Fox-Bailey's dueling op/eds, our hand-picked group of brainy commenters—the ThinkTank—will be weighing in on today's question: Are teachers unions blocking education reform in Olympia?

Stay tuned.

5. Speaking of our brainy group of select commenters, ThinkTank member Roger Valdez submitted his comment from last week's ThinkTank Tuesday to the Seattle Times poetry contest.
Let's stop fretting, fussing, and fighting.
Tunnels! Trains! Buses! Trolleys!
Why argue over how
We go from here to there?
That problem solves itself
Once we all get there.
And once we all get there,
We’ll realize, well,
We’re there!
We don't need to go anywhere after all.
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