Taxing Matters | KUOW News and Information

Taxing Matters

Preschool teacher Cindy Bly opens class at Quinsigamond School in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Many of the pupils in the school come from economically stressed families. Achievement here is ranked in the bottom fifth of the state.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

In Washington state, we look at Massachusetts with envy.

Massachusetts has a top-ranked education system, whereas Washington is in the lower middle.

House Finance Chair Reuven Carlyle, left, and Appropriations Chair Ross Hunter unveiled a two-year budget proposal and tax package designed to satisfy a Supreme Court ruling on K-12 funding, March 27, 2015.
AP Photo/Rachel La Corte

Washington state relies heavily on a sales tax for state revenue. More than 40 states in the union rely on both a sales tax and an income tax. Now there is fresh insight about what that means for Washington state compared to its neighbors.

Andrew Layton is a barista at Java Hound, on Portland's stylish NW 23rd Ave. He knows how much taxes he pays.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

In Oregon, the state tax system puts the burden more on the rich than the poor.

Washington state is the opposite: Part-time workers pay up to 24 percent of their earnings in taxes, and people at the high end of the wage scale pay around 5 percent.

KUOW Graphic/Kara McDermott

Washington has to pony up $3.5 billion for basic education – but how the heck is that going to happen?

A back-of-the-envelope calculation by the Department of Revenue makes the solution look simple: Be like Oregon – or Idaho – and get an income tax.