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Legislature finally adjourns after doing who knows what | Editor's Column
The Washington State Legislature has adjourned and deserves our congratulations because everything looks about the same as it did when they started.
The rain comes down, rivers sweep people away and campers get dumped on as their tent flaps cave to the pools of water they collect. The only way to lessen the rain would be to tax it, and so far the Legislature can’t figure out who to tax for causing the rain to fall. If they every figure out how to meter God, it’ll be low desert around here.
It’s hard to say exactly what our Legislature did because of the confusing way it’s done. House members do stuff, send out boastful news releases, and wait around until the Senate ponders a similar bill. Sometimes that’s all you hear of it; other times the Senate passes something similar and senators send out self-congratulatory news of the achievement. Not that it’s actually done at that point. The Senate and House have to meet to make sure their separate bills become one, until Tim Eyman do they part. If and when the governor concurs there’s a big bill signing ceremony usually attended by reporters and winos looking for a free sandwich, but the official photographers push the riffraff aside for pictures of the beaming governor and legislators and whoever will be receiving the money in the bill that was finally approved.
Meanwhile the voters hear mainly rumors, whatever the TV people sandwich between car accidents, drownings and beheadings, and what headlines flash by on the laptop or iPod. We can however rest assured that no taxes were raised, unless you want to go to a state campground which will cost you $10. But that’s not really a tax, it’s a user fee, because only the people who use the parks pay for them.
Why the Legislature doesn’t adopt more user fees is a mystery. Perhaps it would be too easy to balance the budget. They’d be done in a week and have to go home to their dreary jobs without per diem pay. Schools are our biggest expense but our children get to use them for free and appreciate the education accordingly. Shake down kindergartners for their lunch money and charge high school seniors $10 day. Then they’d take their studies more seriously. If they’re poor, they can work it off in the kitchen or on the janitorial staff.
We’re switching to more toll bridges and highways and always raising the ticket prices for ferries, so why not charge for law enforcement? I almost got a ticket Monday morning for going 55 through Greenbank; the cop flashed his lights as a friendly holiday warning. He should have given me a $100 ticket plus a $25 service fee for his time, and I would have done my duty to support the State Patrol. Instead, there is no service fee and any fine money goes to the general fund to pay legislators’ per diem expenses.
They tax our land, clothing, electronics and transportation, while leaving it up to the feds to take our income. The one glaring loophole is food, which our legislators are afraid to tax. Scientists say we’re all getting fatter, coffins are getting bigger, so why not tax food consumption? Another buck on a bag of potato chips might make a few carrots look tempting. Add $2 a pound to hamburger and dinner tonight might just be a healthful dose of beans and beans.
We’d pay taxes driving to the park, pay a tax when we get there, and pay taxes on the clothes we wear, the beer and soda we drink and the food you eat.
Either the eternal state budget gap the Legislature deals with each year will be fixed, or we’ll end up with a lot of camps within walking distance full of skinny nudists.