Damon Agnos reminds me of the best chart ever for countering the argument that we’re too heavily taxed in Seattle (Seattle ranks #42 out of 50 and Seattlites pay less in total taxes than residents of Phoenix, AZ or Billings, MT).
But his solution seems wrong to me:
Our low tax burden is one reason our transportation infrastructure has fallen so far behind our population growth. We can continue to face the liberal’s dilemma of regressively funded public works (a divide-and-conquer dream for the Tim Eyman crowd), or we can figure out a more equitable way to create the spending increases needed to fund big city infrastructure. A progressively structured income tax, even if just within the city, would be a good start.
I’m pretty sure that an income tax within the city of Seattle would just drive growth out to the suburbs. After all, of the top-10 highest-taxed cities on in the chart above, many — like Philadelphia — have a city wage tax that has done a lot of damage to the urban core by pushing jobs and housing out to the city limits.
We need an income tax, but it needs to be state-wide. This should theoretically be easier, since, unlike many East-coast cities, our metro area is wholly contained within a single state (so you don’t have issues of businesses hopping across the border to evade the tax).