The Olympian’s editorial on I-1634 is based on the presumption that the threat of local taxes on food doesn’t exist. Voters should heed the lessons from Seattle’s “privilege tax” on sugary beverages to understand why consumers, farmers, and retailers believe this threat is very real. I-1634 ends the ability for Washington cities to replicate Seattle’s tax scheme, and helps protect markets for farmers and ranchers in Washington.
Let’s be clear: the Seattle tax not only goes well beyond soda to include fruit juices and almond milk — impacting our tree farmers and growers — it spreads to other items which we all require. City officials concede that the tax is structured in a way that forces some store owners to increase costs on other items, even fruits and vegetables.
As for complaints about who is funding this effort — does that really matter? If we know this “privilege tax” loophole can be exploited, why not work to make sure that groceries are off the table as communities consider additional funding for local needs? That’s why we are proud to stand with more than 1400 small businesses, labor unions, agricultural organizations, and community groups in urging yes to I-1634 to prohibit grocery taxes.