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King County taxpayers exported $2.95 billion to other counties in 2016

Funding arguments between King County and the rest of the state often sound like siblings complaining about each other’s Christmas presents, except in this case it’s infrastructure projects.

Those in the rest of the state are often resentful about funding Seattle area projects and those in the Emerald City area have similar feelings. A new report from the Office of Financial Management (OFM) seems to complicate the manner. It examines how revenue is shared among Washington’s 39 counties, and found that taxpayers in King County exported $2.95 billion to the other counties in 2016, meaning that “37 cents of every dollar of state taxes paid by King County taxpayers was spent elsewhere,” reports The Seattle Times.

“King County is sort of like the football program at the University of Washington; it’s funding the other counties in the state,” joked KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney. “And the biggest recipient of that is Pierce County, they’re getting 508 million more than they gave in state taxes.”

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Yakima County came in second with a net gain of $395 million, followed by Clark County at plus $375 million. So the Times found that King County gives 97 percent of the money to 33 other counties that pay less than what they provide.

“But Danny (Westneat) is in no way saying that that’s a problem, because this is the progressive system. The top one percent of all wage earners — that’s anybody making $550,000 a year — pay pay 40 percent of all taxes collected,” said co-host John Curley. “So it’s the top one percent pay 40, the top 10 percent pay 70, and about half of them get a complete and absolute free ride.”

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“It’s just that the irony is that the people who are getting the free ride are the ones complaining, ‘Hey, we’re giving you too much money,’ and it’s just the opposite,” Tom added. “He’s just sort of saying that when you go ahead and criticize Seattle, you really ought to check your P’s and Q’s.”

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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