July 24, 2006
REGARDING FAIR TAXES
Caption: Hummingbirds support fair state taxes (and access to sugar water).
So many goat ropes, so little time...
That's the best summary El Cabrero can come up with regarding the international and national situation.
But the ancient Stoic philosophers had some good advice: since some things are within our control and others are not, it's generally a good idea to focus on the former.
In El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, ordinary people still have fair to decent odds of influencing public policy. Over 25 groups have recently come together to support a fair state tax system in anticipation of Gov. Manchin's plans to call a special session of the legislature later this year to reform the tax code.
Here's a little background:
Unlike the skewed priorities of the federal government under the current Lords of Misrule, WV's are pretty good. Over 60% of general revenue goes to k-12 and higher education. Over 20 percent goes to human services, including Medicaid, which covers nearly 1 in 5 state residents. Anything left covers everything else, including infrastructure, state parks, and public safety.
It's not clear what is going to be on the table for change, although business groups (and apparently the administration itself) are supporting major cuts in corporate taxes.
The groups that signed on to the fair tax statement--which include religious, education, labor, environmental, and community organizations--recommend that whatever happens, the state should:
*maintain investments in education, services and infrastructure;
*reduce taxes first for low wage workers who currently start paying income tax with income as low as $10,000 and are also hit with sales taxes;
*bring full accountability to corporate tax credits and expenditures to ensure that the state is getting its money's worth in terms of creating good jobs.
The report, titled "Fair Taxes for West Virginia," isn't available online yet, but here's an op-ed by yours truly with some background.
Public comments on tax reform are currently being solicited. West Virginians can help with this by visiting the state tax department's website and filling in a survey about the issues.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: DEPENDS ON WHICH ONE YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT BUT GENERALLY PRETTY HIGH
by El Cabrero