If you meet a grizzly bear in the woods, you need to act big. We’re facing a grizzly bear of a budget deficit in Washington state.
San Juan County and Washington state are deep in the hole. In San Juan County, business and occupation, hotel occupancy and sales taxes are down due to COVID-19. The state’s budget shortfall is projected to be between $2 and $4 billion.
According to Michael Righi, retired economics professor writing in the December newsletter of the Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, the usual legislative approach is to cut spending for social programs like child care support, college tuition, and home health care. as was done in the 2008-09 recession. Righi calls this, “a stupid way to deal with a damaged economy.” We need to reform Washington’s regressive tax structure, one of the worst in the nation. Righi quotes John Burbank, of Seattle’s Economic Policy Institute, who says a one percent tax on wealth over a billion dollars could raise $4.4 billion. That wouldn’t hurt Jeff Bezos or the others in his class, nor those who think they might someday become that wealthy. Such a tax would fill our state’s budget hole and keep needed programs strong. Now is the time to think big and act big. The money is there!