Letters to the Editor

Why assume Dems will raise taxes?

Reading the editorial pages of recent editions of the Port Orchard Independent, you’d think that tax hikes were on the horizon.

Guest Opinions such as “How can Olympia solve its budget problems” (Dec. 6), “Puget Sound can be healed without higher taxes” (Dec. 9), and “Income tax won’t fix state’s budget mess” (Dec. 13) all feature dire warnings of impending tax hikes, or admonitions to lawmakers not to raise taxes.

Opinions such as these regularly appear in local newspapers, contributed by writers each of whom likes to think of themself as a modern-day Paul Revere riding through the op/ed pages warning us that “Tax hikes are coming! Tax hikes are coming!”

Many of them are sponsored by conservative think tanks like the Washington Policy Center or the Evergreen Freedom Foundation as part of their ongoing anti-government agenda — whose modus operandi is to encourage ridicule and mistrust of public institutions.

Conservatives are constantly claiming that Gov. Chris Gregoire or the Legislature will raise our taxes to make up for a revenue shortfall in the next budget cycle, and have even held up the specter of a dreaded income tax as all but assured.

But where are these tax hikes of which they speak?

The governor just released her proposed 2009 budget, and contrary to the conservative pundits’ scary bedtime stories the front-page reality was spelled out in headlines like “Governor's budget: No new taxes, plenty of cuts” (Tacoma News Tribune) and “Gregoire offers no-tax budget for $6B shortfall” (Seattle P-I).

While there’s not much doubt the same partisan prognosticators who dropped the ball in predicting tax increases from the governor will now point their fingers at local legislators, readers should consider facts over fear-mongering.

Although dominated by Democrats, legislators who represent our community have a track record of cutting wasteful spending and opposing tax increases. As a freshman in the legislature, Sen. Derek Kilmer opposed the most recent increase in the state gas tax. And both Kilmer and Rep. Larry Seaquist have been instrumental in cutting wasteful overhead spending on Tacoma Narrows Bridge administrative staff, and fought to reinstate the 1 percent cap on property tax increases.

Our state is currently facing tough times not because of irresponsible spending — recent increases in state hiring and spending focused on prisons and voter-approved initiatives for education - but are the result of an economic crisis that is affecting the entire nation, red and blue states alike.

And as bad as things seem, Washington is in a better position than most other states to weather the storm.

During the depths of the Great Depression, our nation was given encouragement and hope in the words of President Roosevelt, who said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Today, those words should be a touchstone to anyone reading the local op/ed pages.

STEVEN MARTIN

Port Orchard

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