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State Workers to WA Lawmakers: "Choose Kids, Care, Courage"

PHOTO: Greg Devereux, WFSE executive director, thinks if a current Washington tax loophole isn't directly creating jobs, the Legislature should end it. Photo courtesy WFSE.
PHOTO: Greg Devereux, WFSE executive director, thinks if a current Washington tax loophole isn't directly creating jobs, the Legislature should end it. Photo courtesy WFSE.
May 6, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In the countdown to next week's special session, Washington state lawmakers are being bombarded with budget advice. The latest comes over the airwaves, in a new statewide radio ad by the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE). It urges people to ask their legislators to close 2 percent of more than 600 tax loopholes in order to raise more revenue for schools and safety-net programs.

After six years of budget cuts, says WFSE Executive Director Greg Devereux, it's time to get serious about a different approach.

"Too many folks in this state have enjoyed incredible loopholes. We're not saying roll them back forever. But at this point, when so many people have given up so many things, it is time to get revenue from loopholes."

According to Devereux, state workers have given up more than $1.5 billion in wages and benefits in the past few years.

If the legislature has not been able to balance the budget in more than 100 days so far, how will they agree on which loopholes to close? Devereux suggests a litmus test.

"If they are creating jobs right now, I wouldn't suggest getting rid of those. But a lot of these are simply padding the bottom lines of some corporations, and they're not creating jobs. Those are the ones that I would target," he says.

The point of the ad is not to blame any political party, he adds.

"It took both parties to pass those loopholes," he notes. "All we're saying is, if 25 percent of them have been passed in the past 11 or 12 years, we can roll some of those back for a period of time in order to pay for critical services."

The ads, which air statewide starting today and will run through May, ask legislators to "choose kids, care and courage" over tax breaks for special interests. However, last month, even a vote in the House to close the $41 million so-called "Big Oil Loophole" was a close one.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA