Friday, May 1, 2009

How Olympia "Doesn't" Raise Taxes

This is but another example of the pathetic way power-tripping legislators manipulate the law and taxpayers to fund their insatiable spending appetite.

by Brett Davis, EFF

Thankfully, legislators did not end up passing a general tax increase as part of the 2009-11 state budget.

Unfortunately, they did what they often do when the public appetite for tax increases is lacking: raise targeted fees.

We still don’t know how much the final budget will cost affected fee payers, since legislators passed it before the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) could tally up the costs.

In this case it isn’t really OFM’s fault. The legislature didn’t even wait 24 hours between the final budget’s introduction and a vote.

While many politicians tend to regard fees as more palatable than taxes, in most cases the line between a fee and a tax is very thin.

For example, this year the legislature voted to double the tax on wrestling, martial arts and boxing events (SB 6126), only they changed the account that the money is deposited into from the general fund to a dedicated account, which converted the “tax” into a “fee.”

This enabled the legislature to avoid the two-thirds vote threshold required by I-960 for tax increases. Fee increases only require a simple majority.

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