On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Focus On I-912 GOP Opposition: Joyce Mulliken

Republican Washington State Senator Joyce Mulliken (13th District) doesn't like taxes.

She really hates them. In her 10 years as a legislator, in the State House from 1994 to 2002, and now as a State Senator, she's never met a tax she could support.

That was until last spring when she joined 17 of her GOP comrades and voted in favor of the $8.5 billion transportation bill that included a phased in 9.5 cent gas tax.

(Seattle Times) Mulliken: "This is the first time I've voted for any tax increase of any nature since 1994, when I first took office"
That includes the 5 cent gas tax increase in 2003. Mulliken voted against that.

This time around the need was too great, and even Joyce Mulliken had to accept the fact we have a huge transportation safety and traffic mess that needs to be addressed right now, not later, and that as much as she hates taxes, they are a necessary equation in our everyday lives. This time the money to fix our problems wasn't going to simply grow on trees.

(Washington Ports) Mulliken, who describes herself as an "ultra fiscal conservative," said the needs of her district, particularly local farmers, led her to support it.

"Cherry growers have 72 hours from the time they pick their crop to get it to the Asian markets," she said. "You just can't have any kind of traffic jam" and expect to make that time limit.
It turns out she became a believer after reviewing the results of the 2003 gas tax increase:

(Seattle Times) What persuaded her, Mulliken said, was the state's performance with the money raised from the nickel tax that lawmakers approved two years ago, despite her opposition. It paid for a westbound truck lane on Interstate 90 in her district, and the project came in $300,000 under budget and 30 days ahead of schedule.

"I said to the regional manager, 'If the public puts on enough pressure you can come in under budget and early,' " she said.
She also noted that:

(Seattle Times) "Transportation taxes are user fees. I've had the business community thanking me for my position, and it's never easy for an elected official to go home and say she voted for a tax increase when I had a solid record of no new taxes."
I'm sure it isn't. Disregarding the fact that a lot of officials have a misguided belief in the "no new taxes" mantra, usually because it wins votes, I'm sure when a self-proclaimed "ultra fiscal conservative" votes for a tax increase it is not a vote made lightly. Mulliken's constituents in the Moses Lake area certainly feel the effects of the economic benefits a major highway like I-90 brings to central Washington. Business that crosses Washington, or goes in and out of the state, needs to be able to move efficiently and safely, and the transportation bill certainly includes a number of expensive but necessary projects to improve the situation in that area.

Joyce Mulliken, like so many of her colleagues, has seen the problems we face as this state, and has had to make the tough decision to increase the gas tax so that we can address the problems now. She has exhibited strong leadership in doing so and should be commended for her position, which flies in the face of today's Republican party leadership which endorses I-912, the initiative that would kill the bill's primary funding source, and therefore kill the bill.

Joyce Mulliken wants to be a part of a "yes" Republican party. I-912 supporters are all about saying "no" to safer roads, and "no" to improving road capacity and commute times.

We need more people to stand up against the regressive and short-sighted stance of the I-912 proponents. We need more people like Joyce Mulliken.

3 Comment(s):

Comment by: Blogger Josef

Even YT is convinced...

W/ a $1 increase in gas prices in the past few months or so and gas now at $3, 10 cents (okay, 9.5) isn't that much.

That said, I fear this could mean "GO"/thumbs up to other tax increases. Plus this is the only one coming to a vote, unlike:

*Death tax - which would hurt my local newspaper
*Sin taxes (I don't smoke, but my parents do)

Something to think about...

10/08/2005 3:29 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Daniel Kirkdorffer

Josef - Judging by the reluctance of legislators to vote for taxes, and that they voted for this one, I do not believe that we open the floodgates to taxes simply by voting against I-912. The fact is that this tax increase merely brings the tax rate back to a level that it had fallen off of in recent years relative to inflation.

Will it be the last tax increase? Of course not. Life goes on and we continue to need to fund the services all of us rely on.

Meanwhile we can all help offset the cost of the tax by driving less or even simply driving better. I know that by simply avoiding accelerating too fast or driving with a heavy foot can improve my mileage by about 20%. Over a year that can lead to a significant savings in fuel costs.

If people really cared about the cost of fuel they'd try to do the same.

10/08/2005 3:43 PM PT  
Comment by: Blogger Josef

All good points I will take into consideration. I just wish we could 912-each tax increase and vote them up or down on the merits & demerits. I think that was the intent behind 912, anyway more than transportation "reform".

[BTW, I like how you've rebutted the SP comment clique lately. They've gotten off track, methinks and need to give more coherent defenses of Dino (which I could give).]

10/09/2005 2:46 PM PT  

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