Working Families Tax Rebate: Sign On Letter

March 17, 2015

To: Members of the House Appropriations Committee

CC: Speaker Frank Chopp
Minority Leader Kristiansen
Rep. Carlyle, Rep. Nealey

Dear Honorable Members,

In 2008, the Legislature took an important step towards improving economic security for children and families with low and moderate incomes through the passage of the Working Families Tax Rebate (WFTR) – Washington state’s version of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). However, this measure has yet to be funded. As the budget negotiations begin for the 2015-2017 biennium, we are urging your support to fully fund the WFTR and make good on the promise made in 2008.

The WFTR is based on the highly successful federal EITC- the most successful tool we have for lifting children and families out of poverty. The EITC is a complement to a wide array of policies, as it helps address income inequality. Our state could capitalize on the many established benefits of the federal EITC by fully funding the WFTR.
The crosscutting nature of the WFTR should not be overlooked, especially given the challenges our state faces moving forward. The WFTR is an important tool to:

Reduce taxes for 400,000 hardworking households: Washington state has the most upside-down tax system in the nation. People with low incomes pay seven times more taxes as a share of income than the richest 1 percent. Funding the WFTR would reduce taxes for over 400,000 hardworking households in Washington state.

• Improve the equity of our tax system: The WFTR would help to offset the regressivity of the state sales tax and is an essential component of any revenue system. It would be an especially useful tool to mitigate the impact of an increase in the gas tax or ensure communities with low incomes are not disproportionately affected by a carbon-pricing program – two revenue options currently being considered by the legislature.

Keep children and families out of poverty: Washington state is one of three states where poverty is increasing. In 2011, the federal EITC kept more than 116,000 children and families out of poverty in Washington state and is the most effective anti-poverty tool we have for kids and families. Funding the WFTR could build on these benefits.

Help families transition to a low-carbon economy: Transitioning to a low-carbon economy is essential for the future well-being of all Washingtonians, but the effects of this transition will not be felt equally. Communities with lower incomes – a disproportionate number of whom are people of color – are the first and worst hit by both the health and economic effects of carbon pollution. They are also the least equipped to adapt to the negative impacts of climate disruption. Fully funding the WFTR would ensure that in our efforts to confront climate change, we are also creating an inclusive 21st century economy.

Help families meet needs while boosting local economies: Studies show that every dollar in EITC results in $1.50 in local economic activity as recipients tend to spend the funds on immediate needs such as home and car repairs, clothing for children, appliances, and catching up on past-due bills. Funding the WFTR would add $100 million to local economies.

As budget writers, you face a challenging year as you contend with the education funding challenge before us. In order to meet this challenge, we must raise new revenue. Through policies currently under consideration – like the Carbon Pollution Accountability Act (HB 1314) or a capital gains tax (HB 1484) – you have an opportunity to make a difference for communities with low incomes by finally funding the Working Families Tax Rebate. This administratively simple, cost effective, and proven tool will help families with low incomes move onto a path of prosperity.

We, community and faith leaders, service providers, individuals and advocates, urge your support for fully funding the Working Families Tax Rebate.

Sincerely,

Tony Lee, Founding Member
Asian Pacific Islander Coalition

Jon Gould, Deputy Director
Children’s Alliance

De’Sean Quinn
De’Sean Quinn, City Council Member,
City of Tukwila; Commissioner, Washington State Commission of African American Affairs

Jessica Finn Coven, Washington State Director
Climate Solutions

Jill Mangaliman, Executive Director
Got Green?

Rich Stolz, Executive Director
OneAmerica

Peter Bloch Garcia, Executive Director
Progreso: Latino Progress

Rebecca Saldaña, Executive Director
Puget Sound Sage

Adam Glickman, Vice President
SEIU Healthcare 775NW

Marcy Bowers, Executive Director
Statewide Poverty Action Network

Sarah Cherin, Political and Public Policy Director
UFCW 21

Jolinda Stephens, Coordinator
United Universalists Voices for Justice- Washington

Mauricio Ayon, Political Director
Washington Community Action Network

Shannon Murphy, President
Washington Conservation Voters

Becky Kelly, President
Washington Environmental Council

Rachael Myers, Executive Director
Washington Low Income Housing Alliance

Remy Trupin, Executive Director
Washington State Budget & Policy Center

Jeff Johnson, President
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Lani Todd, Legislative and Public Policy Coordinator
SEIU 925

Jennifer Allen, Director of Public Policy
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest

Robby Stern, President
Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA)

Bernal Bacam, Lobbyist
AFT Washington

Benita Hyder, Union Representative
OPEIU Local 8

Katharine Ryan, Policy and Research Coordinator
Food Lifeline

Paul Benz, Co-Director
Faith Action Network

David Parsons , President
UAW Local 4121

Aaron Ostrom, Executive Director
Fuse Washington

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