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  • Pot photo by TMPH

In this week's paper, I suggest a few things state legislators could do to fix our state's $4.6 billion budget hole. Starting with this:

1. Tax the income of the very wealthiest.

An income tax on the 38,400 wealthiest Washingtonians would solve our state's budget crisis. That's people who make over $200,000 a year as individuals or over $400,000 as couples—you know, people who won't feel it all that much. Bill Gates Sr. proposed this very idea, in the form of Initiative 1098, last year. Voters kicked it aside in November—the lizard-brain reaction to any form of tax increases on anyone scares the bejesus out of voters, and Jeff Bezos, Steve Ballmer, Paul Allen, and other greedy billionaires financed a mighty opposition campaign—but maybe voters will feel differently now that they see how fiscally fucked we are.

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We need $4.6 billion over the next two-year budgeting cycle, and the income tax proposed under I-1098 would bring in exactly that amount over two years, according to estimates. A respected Washington pollster recently found that 58 percent of Washington voters would now support a high-earners income tax, provided it came with a constitutional guarantee that it wouldn't be extended to people at lower incomes. What are state legislators waiting for?

Read more budget-balancing proposals HERE.

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