Your tax dollars help to make the lives of Washingtonians better. From college scholarships to affordable health coverage, public safety to parks, state investments from tax dollars serve the common good. These investments are essential to creating the kind of state in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
This infographic (which we encourage you to share far and wide) provides a breakdown of how state and local taxes invest in Washington’s people and communities:
Click here to see the full infographic.
And here are just three of the many ways state and federal investments made possible by tax dollars have helped Washingtonians over the past few years:
- 241,000 Washington kids have a better shot at getting ahead. A 2015 KIDS COUNT report found that the many programs that help kids and families – including school lunch programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and cash assistance – helped lift 241,000 children out of poverty between 2011 and 2013. That cut the poverty rate among Washington’s kids in half.
- The implementation of the Affordable Care Act means 300,000 more Washingtonians can see a doctor when they need to. This is according to the 2015 U.S. Census report that showed a 5 percent increase in the number of people in our state who have obtained health coverage since 2013. That’s equivalent to almost the entire population of the cities of Everett and Tacoma combined.
- We have seen progress in improving the health of Washington’s environment. Over the past 15 years, investments in environmental protections have allowed Washington to make some strides toward cleaning up its air, water, and land. For example, the 2015 Progress Index showed that the percentage of people impacted by drinking water that doesn’t meet water-quality standards decreased from 5 percent to just 0.2 percent between 2000 and 2012. And the percentage of hazardous waste recycled by businesses and other facilities increased from 16 percent to 24 percent between 2000 and 2013.
While we celebrate these successes, we also recognize we still have much work to do to ensure that our state has adequate funding in its budget. If we really want all Washingtonians to have the opportunity to live healthy, productive lives, we need a state budget that provides the investments to do so. Yet our state’s economy and progress continue to be threatened by some short-sighted policymakers who refuse to support raising the resources necessary to provide high-quality K-12 schools, clean up toxic sites across the state, and provide emergency services that we all rely on.
In fact, too many lawmakers simply won’t take common-sense steps to ensure there is enough revenue to invest in these critical areas unless the public demands it. It’s up to those of us who envision a better Washington to change the dialogue about how essential tax dollars are to our state’s prosperity. Powerful, common-sense solutions to our state’s funding shortfall exist – like fixing our state’s broken tax system (a system that forces people with the lowest incomes to pay the highest state tax rates), closing wasteful tax loopholes for big corporations, and taxing capital gains for those with the highest incomes.
When we come together to push for these solutions, we can get on track toward creating a just and prosperous state. That is why the Budget & Policy Center is teaming up with an incredible group of experts and community leaders at Fuse Washington, Sound Alliance, OneAmerica, Spokane Alliance, Progress Alliance, and others to launch All In for Washington – a multi-year effort to help people understand why cleaning up our tax code and unlocking new sources of revenue is so critical to our state’s future.
Stay tuned for an announcement with many more details about the powerful work this campaign is doing in Olympia and in key communities throughout the state this year and beyond! In the meantime, you’re invited to attend one of All In’s upcoming messaging workshops throughout the state on “A New Narrative on Taxes, Revenue, and Government.” Here’s the schedule and registration info about the messaging roadshow.
And on this Tax Day, we hope you will talk with your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and social media friends about how important taxes are to our economy and the health of our communities. Together, let’s be All In for Washington!