Dori vs Rep. Pollet: Why Washington property taxes are higher

Jan 30, 2018, 4:18 PM | Updated: 4:18 pm

Gerry pollet...

Washington State Representative Gerry Pollet. (Washington House Democrats)

(Washington House Democrats)

KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson wants to know why Washington’s Democrats favor an income tax to further fund state programs. State Representative Gerry Pollet has a different question altogether. At the heart of the issue is the state’s schools and how to fund them.

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“You just can’t go for what we are talking about for this year, for changing the property tax and providing relief,” Pollet said, debating Dori. “… the choice is not property tax or income tax. If you insist that the choice is property tax or income tax, you know that many of your listeners will say, ‘Well darn it, I would rather have my huge property tax increase.’ We are offering them a real choice that isn’t property for income tax. It’s property tax or closing loopholes and making sure that the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the world — who reside here — are paying their fair share. If you are a middle class person or lower income, you are paying more than your fair share.”

Dori is skeptical of that last that point.

Pollet, a Democrat, represents many of Seattle’s neighborhoods. Dori points out that under a new property tax increase, a $900,000 home in Seattle gets a tax increase of $1,200. For years, state lawmakers have struggled to meet the court-ordered McCleary decision — to fully fund K-12 education. An increased property tax is part of that.

“Well, there are two things people need to know,” Pollet said. “First, you have to remember that last June the Senate Republicans said the only way they would meet the constitutional requirements to fund our children’s education was with this massive property tax swap. They didn’t want to consider alternatives and they held us hostage until the government was about to shut down in our state. We didn’t have much of a choice. We talked them out of about half of a property tax increase.”

“The second thing is those of us who voted for it did so with the expectation that we would come back and be working on removing some of the property tax and putting it into other tax sources,” he said. “We need to fund our children’s schools … and we are not even close to fully funding our children’s schools. We should be doing it with something more fair than the property tax.”

Other sources, according to Pollet, would be closing tax loopholes. He’s sponsored legislation in the past that would have closed one such loophole for businesses that do not create jobs or revenue in the state. Dori, on the other hand, would rather see the state become more efficient and make cuts to unnecessary programs. Instead, he sees more taxes — from soda taxes to Sound Transit car tab fees.

“Why aren’t you willing to ask if oil companies should pay a fair share of their revenue?” Pollet said. “Why aren’t you willing to ask if Amazon or Microsoft should pay on the revenue they earn from investing on Wall Street instead of your property taxes paying for schools?”

“The Republicans ran our state’s Senate for five years,” he said. “They didn’t find any efficiencies to fund education. What they did do was say, ‘Let’s hike up property taxes.’ And they refused to close tax loopholes.”

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