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Seeking the fairy tale land of no taxes



Once upon a time, in a land … well, right here … we didn’t have to depend on fairy tales to fund basic necessities.

But we did live under the spell of a powerful and hated potion that cast a pall across the land. By helping to pay for our other bad habits, the potion kept us hooked and gained power every year, until one day, a charlatan came with bright, shining lies and said that all would be well if we would only turn away from the potion.

And for a while it seemed all was well, until the world started to crumble and the people realized they hadn’t made healthier choices after turning away from the potion.

Unfortunately, we’re still in the middle of the story.

Sixteen years ago, Tim Eyman’s Initiative 695 cast out a vehicle excise tax that helped to fund road maintenance in small towns. It was ruled unconstitutional, but later re-instated by the Legislature. Gone were the yearly fees of hundreds of dollars yoking anyone who needed a vehicle to get around. Most people still don’t realize the good the tax did, only that it was a tax and therefore evil, and so they voted for the measure that would alleviate the very burdensome strain it imposed.

Washingtonian’s annual ritual of unhappily dumping hundreds of dollars on vehicle license tabs wasn’t popular with anyone, but it was part of how we funded roads. Banishing the tab tax to Neverland eased individuals’ pains until they started hitting more potholes.

But the fees on tabs have been creeping back into our fairy tale, which nobody wants to pay. Electric City added one a couple years ago. Now Elmer City is looking for the same kind of help with their street budget, albeit only $20 at a time, not hundreds.

We all want services, and we all want to not pay for them. Someday, voters will wake up and realize they shouldn’t buy every tune sold by a Pied Piper with a flute full of promises.

Or maybe that hope is another one for the fairy tale books.

Eyman filed 66 initiatives this year. Voters passed one, again, that seeks to require a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. If it survives a court challenge, it will give more power to the no voters than the yes voters.

Perhaps one day small towns, devising ways to keep the lights on and the potholes filled, will try selling magic beans to make ends meet.

Scott Hunter

editor and publisher

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