Morning Fizz

Morning Fizz: Philosophical Gotcha

Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring questions about taxes and double standards.

By Morning Fizz February 4, 2013


Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. Both Democrats and Republicans made a lot of speeches on Friday morning on the state house floor when the Republicans ran a series of losing bills to change house rules: for example, they wanted to institute a two-thirds majority rule to even debate tax increase measures, and they wanted to mandate that the house had to pass a standalone education budget before passing the general fund budget. 

Here's our coverage. But we also wanted to highlight one of the best speeches of the day: Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne, Ballard) warned the Republicans that taking the voter-approved mandate requiring a two-thirds vote to approve taxes that far means the GOP should also support two-thirds requirements to debate bills to scale back abortion rights, renewable energy mandates, and home health care worker pay—all things voters have also signed off on at the ballot in big numbers. Ouch.

"We are told that the voters have spoken ... under that precept ... any measure that could be defined as making a modification of that right [abortion] should therefore require a supermajority."

Watch Carlyle's philosophical gotcha here:


2. Speaking of abortion rights, in case you missed our story late Friday, state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens) struck back at the Majority Coaltion Caucus by re-introducing his Reproductive Parity Act legislation—after it stalled in the health care committee.

3. We couldn't hold on to this Isn't it Weird item:  Isn't it weird that ... Herb Krohn, the legislative director for the United Transportation Union (rail workers) is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the arena proposal that says the deal violates I-91 (the rule that citizens must make a profit on any public sports facility deal.)

Krohn's union is against the arena because they worry it will cause traffic problems in the SoDo industrial district. But Krohn also co-wrote a Seattle Times op-ed last month arguing in favor of the Gateway Pacific coal terminal outside Bellingham—a project that would run 18, 1.6-mile-long coal trains through Seattle everyday, delaying crossings from SoDo to Belltown more than an hour and a half a day.

It sounds like a logical way to help consumers, but even the conservative Washington D.C.-based Tax Foundation, which released a damning report on tax holidays, says a sales tax holiday is a "gimmick."

4. The Washington Retail Association is promoting two high-profile conservative bills that we've already noted—cutting back the minimum wage and ending the familiy leave act. But a lower-profile bill, and one that sounds much less ideological (and has support on both sides of the aisle) is getting a hearing today in the house finance committee: a "back-to-school" tax holiday, temporary sales tax relief on selected school items such as backpacks in late August. 

It sounds like a logical way to help consumers, but even the conservative Washington D.C.-based Tax Foundation, which released a damning report on tax holidays, says the idea is a "gimmick" that doesn't achieve its supposed goals. Studies show that tax holidays don't increase economic activity (they simply shift it),  and they don't save consumers any money (retailers raise prices and pocket the "rebate" themselves).

The Tax Foundation adds a cautionary warning to conservatives, calling tax holidays "a Soviet-style state-directed price reduction on items selected by the state... with politicians picking products and industries."

And here's Fizz's favorite quote: "If a state must offer a 'holiday' from its tax system..."

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