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OLYMPIA… As lawmakers returned to the Capitol April 29 for a special session in which proposals to raise taxes are a central issue, a survey from state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, showed the one thing that most unites voters in the 35th Legislative District is their firm opposition to big tax hikes.
The survey revealed deep hostility to Gov. Jay Inslee’s plans to use taxes to achieve environmental goals. Two-thirds of 35th District residents surveyed don’t want to pay a penny more for a gallon of gasoline, even if that interferes with the governor’s plans for a cap-and-trade program and low-carbon fuel standards. And nearly three-quarters said Washington ought to make do with the $3 billion in additional tax revenue it will receive this year, rather than increasing taxes to cover all the demands for new spending.
All told, 277 people responded to the survey, which was mailed to frequent voters and new arrivals in the 35th District. The survey also appeared on Sen. Sheldon’s website. The 35th District covers a sprawling area encompassing Mason County and parts of Kitsap and Thurston counties, Hood Canal and the south Puget Sound.
“The survey demonstrates those who live outside Seattle don’t do much downtown thinking,” Sheldon said. “Out here where things are real, people are more concerned with putting food on the table and keeping a few dollars in their wallet. And they aren’t eager to give state government any more money than they have to.”
More than three-quarters of those who responded say the governor’s proposals for big new taxes on capital gains and carbon emissions put the state on the wrong track. Nearly 40 percent say government spending is the top issue facing Washington today, while another 20 percent say it is jobs.
Sheldon acknowledged self-selection was involved in the survey – those who cared the most were the ones who responded. But the response was roughly the same size as the typical legislative-district phone-poll sample. Sheldon observed that his largely rural district is rarely targeted by pollsters and it is difficult to get a measure of public attitudes by any other means. “We got a good cross-section, with people who identified themselves as members of both parties and as independents,” Sheldon said. “There are some people in the district who are on board with these proposals for massive tax increases. But there aren’t very many of them.
“I think we did a pretty good job of taking the public’s temperature. The results showed people are on board with our approach in the Senate, and our resistance to big new taxes that eventually would affect every citizen of the state.
“What really inspired me is that so many people sent notes with their responses – about three-quarters of the people who participated. I’ll be responding to everyone who included their address. But those who didn’t, let me assure you, I’ve read what you have to say and I take it to heart.
“One person said, ‘Thank you, Tim, for hearing our voice.’ That sort of comment makes me feel humble. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.”