Deaf on taxes
Saying it’s the will of the people, the legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire have called a special session next week to reinstate the 1 percent limit on general property tax levies that the state Supreme Court struck down Nov. 8.
Don’t rush, says the Washington State Tax Fairness Coalition, the statewide group educating the public about our state’s most-unfair-in-the-nation taxation system. No income tax, high sales taxes, and the regressive property tax means that the wealthy pay 3 percent, the middle class 11 percent, and the poor 17 percent of their annual incomes to the state.
But I-747 did not help matters. Pegging the property tax below the rate of inflation hobnailed local governments’ attempt to deliver core public services, like police, fire, and EMS. Keeping it — and adding on the consequences of the newly approved Initiative 960 — undercuts Democrats’ ability to deliver on their core values of health care, jobs, and education. It means poor counties get no relief and voters in wealthy, liberal counties complain of “compassion fatigue” from the many requests for special levies for specific needs.
That’s the kind of reasoning to which the Democratic leadership seems deaf. County Executive Ron Sims, who as gubernatorial candidate in 2004 had a plan for a more equitable tax system, on Monday applauded the King County Council for approving a budget that hews to the spirit of I-747.
Deaths of homeless up
The One Night County of homeless people in King County might have gone down, but not the number of deaths: Last week, Public Health - Seattle & King County reported that 110 homeless people died last year, up from 94 deaths in 2005 and 82 deaths in 2004.
Forty-five percent of the deaths were due to accidents, an increase from previous years, with more homeless people being hit by cars, drowning, or falling. The number of homeless people murdered last year also climbed to 11, up from eight in 2005 and four in 2004.
Correction made Nov 28, 2007: A Nov. 21 brief stated that the number of homeless people sleeping outside has gone down, according to the annual One Night Count. That’s not entirely true for reasons that are, unfortunately, rather technical.
This year, 76 fewer people were found in areas that volunteers had last canvassed in January 2006. However, count organizers sent volunteers to previously uncanvassed areas and put them on Metro buses; they found 289 people. The new areas are apples to the old count’s oranges, but the people in them are, like everyone else, experiencing firsthand the region’s problem with housing and wages. The upshot: 1,946 people were found staying outside in the middle of the night in 2006, and 2,159 were found in 2007. For the full report on the One Night Count, go to www.homelessinfo.org.
ICE strikes again
One day you’re working a landscaping job in Dupont. The next day you’re sitting in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. That’s what happened to 11 people Nov. 15 in another raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
ICE confirms that it arrested the 11 — 10 Mexicans and one Honduran — after investigating TruGreen Land Care of Dupont, south of Tacoma. One worker is out on bond, says ICE spokesperson Lorie Dankers; the others are awaiting deportation proceedings.