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Steve Ballmer warns voters of Seattle income tax fallout

Steve Ballmer talks with KIRO Radio's Dave Ross. (KIRO Radio)

Listen to Dave Ross’ interview with Steve Ballmer

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spent decades of his career helping Microsoft rise to dominance. He knows a thing or two about the conditions that are favorable for business.

“Dumb luck is a big part of it,” Ballmer told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “I’m a big believer that dumb luck is part of a lot of things. I got a lot of dumb luck in addition to a lot of hard work. Microsoft requires some intelligence, some hard work and some dumb luck.”

RELATED: Seattle’s income tax proposal explained

Ballmer notes that excellent education and weather are also considerations. But there are also unfavorable conditions that can hamper success in Seattle.

“In Seattle’s case, it is a beautiful place to live,” he said. “It is a place, now, that is a center of talent in the tech industry, and success and talent will breed startups and more of that sort of thing. What are the things that can undo it? Unfavorable business climate.”

An income tax would be included in that “unfavorable business climate.” There is a movement in Seattle to challenge state law and implement a new income tax on the city’s top earners. Some call it “Trump Proof Seattle,” others simply say “Tax the Rich.” A potential effect is that talented employees who are drawn to Seattle — and earn higher incomes — could reconsider living in the Emerald City if their wages are threatened.

“All of a sudden somebody who thinks they are getting paid more than somebody who makes the equivalent dollars in California – because California has a 14-percent income tax – sure, it would drive up wages here and cause people to think about moving jobs elsewhere,” Ballmer said. “That will certainly happen.”

“I’m not saying it’s a mistake, it’s something that voters need to think about in aggregate, not just one man’s opinion,” he said. “But the analysis is right. There will be fewer jobs here with an income tax than there would without an income tax.”

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