Letter to the Editor: Columnist Defines a Problem But Offers No Solution

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Michael Wagar's column Feb. 6 defines a problem but not a solution.

The problem is how do we pay for construction and maintenance of our roads and highways when the funding from the gas tax disappears in the future due to the coming era of all electric vehicles? Wagar's column never really addresses the question.

He goes on about how harmful and unfair the proposal to tax vehicle miles traveled will be to rural Washingtonians. How does he propose to fund the maintenance and construction of roads and highways?

Maybe we could get some volunteer groups to do the work. That good old Lewis County "Git 'er done" spirit. Surely the Boy Scouts and some church groups would step up to the plate. Facetiousness aside, conservatives seem to believe if you don't fund a solution, change won't happen and the problem will go away.

Conservatives believe local control and private enterprise solves all problems. Their prototype for governance is Texas. When they have not been shivering or dying in their freezing, pipe bursting homes, homeowners in Texas' privately owned utility companies are currently being charged $3,000 to $4,000 for power. And no, it has nothing to do with "green" energy.

I agree with Wagar that the plan to tax vehicle miles traveled does impact rural Washingtonians more greatly than urban drivers, although he failed to note that many modern gas vehicles temporarily shut off when stopped in traffic. I also agree with Rep. Peter Abbarno that the Big Brotherish nature of the program is offensive. 

But the question stubbornly remains. How do we pay for our highway and roads in the coming post-gas vehicle era?

It is interesting that conservatives always claim to be, as Wagar said of Rep. Abbarno, the guardians and protectors of your wallet.

The Vehicle-Miles-Traveled proposal is a very regressive tax. So is the gas tax and the sales tax. 

Not only are low-income rural people more negatively impacted by these taxes, so are low-income urban dwellers. Everyone pays the same tax or the same rate, from Joe Blow to the wealthiest Seattle resident.

Though unintentionally, Wagar and Rep. Abbarno make a very solid case for a far less regressive state tax system. What would really protect the wallets of low income citizens, both rural and urban, would be to fund most of the needs of state government with a graduated state income tax. 

What better way to make his mark as a freshman legislator than for Rep. Abbarno to propose a Lewis County-friendly state income tax?

Someday, low and middle income Washingtonians will realize that by displacing other taxes, a state income tax is in their best interests. 

After all, Lewis County demonstrates annually how much we enjoy spending the tax dollars King County sends to Olympia.

 

Marty Ansley 

Cinebar 

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