(This guest Slog post is by Bill Gates Sr. The voters' guide has more information about Initiative 1098 here.)

Bill Gates Sr.
  • John Gerard
  • Bill Gates Sr.

Change is never easy. But the time has come to change our tax code to make it fairer and enable investments in our future.

I love this state, but I am concerned about the direction we are headed. That’s why I helped write I-1098. It is time for me—and other wealthy residents of Washington State—to start paying our share of taxes in order to improve our schools and better fund health care.

Washington is in a downward spiral of cutting our most critical services. Over the last two years, thousands of education jobs have been eliminated; class sizes are soaring; 44,000 people have lost basic health coverage; and tuition at our public universities has increased 30 percent. And even deeper cuts are looming.

We’ve already slipped to 46th out of the 50 states in funding education, and a King County court ruled earlier this year that we are violating our own constitution by underfunding basic education. That is a shameful state of affairs. What does this mean for the future of Washington State if we continue on the present path? It means our kids and grandkids are not going to have remotely the same economic opportunity as I did. It means that the divide between the rich and poor will continue to grow. It means that that our quality of life will suffer.

By modestly taxing only the top 1.2 percent richest Washingtonians—income for couples above $400,000 per year (above $200,000 a year for individuals)—we can provide over $2 billion a year for education and health care.

I-1098 also cuts taxes for the vast majority of Washingtonians, reducing property taxes by $400 million annually and eliminating the Business & Occupation taxes for small businesses. Meanwhile, 157,000 small businesses across the state will benefit.

The measure places all net revenue—$2 billion a year—in a trust that politicians must spend on education and health care. And I-1098 requires that the income tax cannot be changed without a vote of the people. It’s the kind of reform Washington desperately needs.

Our opponents suggested in a recent debate that the way to fund education is by cutting services for the needy by 20 percent. That amounts to robbing Peter to educate Paul. It is not a realistic—or sensible—solution to our education funding problem.

A Yes on I-1098 vote means we will finally begin to address the fact we have the most unfair tax system in the nation, with the middle class paying four times the tax rate of the top one percent. A Yes on I-1098 vote means we will finally begin investing in education — rather than cutting funding and delaying positive reforms. It will mean a major step towards progressive change, rather than reinforcing the status quo. A Yes on I-1098 vote means that we want a strong economy and good jobs for future generations.

I love this state and I know you do as well. Let’s ensure that it remains a wonderful place to live. Please join me in supporting I-1098.