As former mayors of our capital city, we know that Washington’s tax system places a disproportionate burden on the poor, students and working families, and that access to higher education is very expensive.
Nevertheless, we urge Olympia voters to vote “No” on Olympia Initiative 1, the city income tax initiative to fund first-year college tuition. Here’s why:
▪ First, funding higher education is not a core city function. Our community has many other underfunded priorities that are clearly municipal responsibilities.
▪ Second, passage would embroil the city in expensive court proceedings, consuming revenue that should go to higher priorities.
▪ Third, if the initiative is found to be constitutional, implementing it would cost the city thousands of dollars, far more than the five percent of collected revenue specified in the ballot measure for administration.
▪ Fourth, the city has no way to determine residents’ taxable income, and the IRS will not share income information from federal tax returns. Even if all households making $200,000 or more a year voluntarily reported and paid, estimated revenue would be considerably less than proponents claim.
▪ Fifth, needy students have other college funding options. But revenue from the initiative would be given regardless of need.
▪ Finally, the entire tax burden would fall on just three percent of Olympia households, an unfair and divisive distribution of cost.
Please vote no on Olympia Initiative 1.