[Note: This is an opinion piece on a political matter. If that sort of thing offends you, it is recommended that you skip this post.]
Christine Gregoire, January 2008:
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Gregoire said, quoting former President Franklin Roosevelt and referring to national recession fears. “It is a very frustrating time, I know, for you, and it is for me. … I’m struggling to get the message out to Washingtonians. The economy is strong. Buy your home.” (The Olympian, 01.25.2008)
“There is no good reason for a slowing of home purchasing in the state of Washington today” (Associated Press, 01.25.2008)
In the twenty-two months between the Governor’s declaration that “there is no good reason for a slowing of home purchasing” and the latest data on Seattle’s Case-Shiller home price index (November 2009), home prices have fallen 18%. Some “strong economy,” huh?
Just eight months later… Christine Gregoire, September 2008:
“This is the worst economic situation we’ve faced since the Depression.”
“When you’ve got tough economic times, it’s not the time to raise taxes,” she said. “Nobody is talking about taxes but [Dino Rossi].” (Seattle Times, 09.19.2008)
Gregoire was quickly proven dead wrong about how strong the economy was and how we should all go out and buy overpriced houses. In January 2008 she was obviously either lying or oblivious to the growing problem. Neither option seems like a quality we would want in a Governor.
But hey, at least she promised not to raise taxes in these suddenly “tough economic times.” Note that at the time of the above quote, Washington’s state-wide unemployment rate was 5.5% (seasonally-adjusted).
Wait now, what’s this?
Democrats in Olympia are getting ready to play right into their stereotype as lovers of taxes.
They are preparing for a final vote to overturn initiative 960, the initiative which requires a 2/3rds vote of both houses to raise taxes or in fact ANY additional revenue.
And which ALSO requires the legislature to send out an e-mail anytime a bill is proposed that even MIGHT raise revenue.
Those of us who subscribe to that list have received a steady stream of e-mails in the past month warning us of bills that will raise revenue, most of them sponsored exclusively by democrats.
By voting to suspend the 2/3rds requirement and to stop those e-mails, it looks like they’re not only are they hell-bent on raising taxes in a recession, but hell bent on keeping it secret. (Dave Ross, 02.10.2010)
So now, with the state unemployment rate at 9.5% (as of December), not only are Gregoire’s comrades in the state legislature planning “a steady stream” of bills to raise taxes, but they’re also taking measures to make sure that it is more difficult for the public to keep track of such actions. Again, Mrs. Gregoire was either lying or completely oblivious.
The important thing to note in this most recent development is that as Dave Ross (a former Democrat candidate for the US House) points out, the legislature could have suspended only the 2/3rds requirement portion of I-960. In fact that was what the state Senate originally did on Tuesday. However, that was not enough for them. They have instead decided to go the extra mile to spite the people of Washington and eliminate the legislative transparency portions as well.
I-960 has other provisions the people want. One is that Office of Financial Management must calculate the 10-year cost of every revenue-raising bill introduced. For every such bill, OFM must send out an e-mail to interested members of the public and the press of the costs, hearing dates, legislative votes and contact information for lawmakers. (Seattle Times, 01.13.2010)
Not only that, but the state Senate and House are pushing these votes through the Legislature in late-night and weekend votes, seemingly to keep things as under-the-radar as possible. The House takes up the bill tomorrow morning (Saturday), during the weekend break in the news cycle.
I will grant that this is only tangentially related to real estate—some of the tax proposals floating around Olympia include expanding the sales tax to include services, such as those provided by a real estate agent. However, the Governor has been so two-faced, and the state legislature so underhanded on this matter that this deserves to be mentioned.
If those in charge down in Olympia want to raise taxes on real estate services, soda, chocolate, or whatever—fine, let’s have that discussion. But why all the sneaking around and lying? Why not be forthright about your intentions and hold an open dialogue on the issue?