UPDATED: Evergreen State conservatives are suggesting that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray epitomizes the problem with liberal Democrats everywhere: He’s scrapped an idea to tax Seattle homeowners to finance programs for the homeless in favor of a bigger and more far reaching tax plan.
On Monday, Murray announced he was giving up on a proposed Seattle property tax hike to raise $275 million for the homeless effort and instead going for a county-wide sales tax hike. The idea seems to have King County Executive Dow Constantine – like Murray, another liberal Democrat former state lawmaker – and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer on board.
Murray is the former state senator who infamously sponsored a bill to ban so-called “assault weapons” that included a provision for annual warrantless searches by sheriff’s deputies of the homes of gun owners. Hanauer is the wealthy fellow who helped bankroll Initiative 594, the so-called “universal background check” measure in 2014.
This comes just days after the Seattle Weekly reported that a citizen group called Safe and Affordable Seattle has filed an ethics complaint against Murray “and other officials” with the state Public Disclosure Commission. The complaint alleges that the mayor improperly used “the platform and resources of public office in support of a measure” to double city property taxes “for homeless mitigation.”
A dozen hours after the announcement was publicized in the Seattle Times, nearly 450 readers had posted reactions, and they were largely critical of the idea.
According to the Seattle P-I.com, Murray and Constantine “will work together on a campaign for a 2018 ballot measure to raise sales tax by 0.1 percent countywide to fund a yet-to-be-formulated regional plan to end homelessness.”
Critics, including KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson and KVI radio’s John Carlson – two Seattle talk hosts on competing stations – both declared the proposal to be nuts, and they blamed both politicians for pushing policies that created the homeless problem. The consensus: If these guys would stop creating “magnet” programs that attract homeless people, there wouldn’t be a crisis. Just throwing more money at the problem is only going to exacerbate the problem, not solve it, the talk jocks argue.
Tuesday morning, Carlson called homelessness an “industry” in Seattle. He and colleague Kirby Wilbur were practically chomping at the proverbial bit to see this scheme to be put before voters in the entire county. Seattle-centric liberals never seem to understand that east of Lake Washington and south of Renton, the political landscape goes from blue to purple, and even red.
What is happening in Seattle and King County, Washington might be a microcosm of what is happening around the country, and has been for some time, from the conservative perspective. Throwing more money at a problem such as homelessness or other social welfare efforts – including Seattle/King County’s proposed “safe injection” sites – only encourages more of the same. It makes as much sense as trying to tax and spend yourself into prosperity.
This sales tax scheme may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for traditionally liberal Seattle voters.