Sheldon survey shows strong public opposition to tax hikes, green agenda

Participation in this year’s 35th District survey is four times higher than typical

OLYMPIA – A survey of 35th District voters by Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, demonstrates strong public opposition to the tax increases and sweeping green agenda being pushed at the statehouse this year.

Not only did voters in Sheldon’s district say an overwhelming no, but nearly 2,000 voters responded to Sheldon’s annual survey – four times higher than typical.

“People are frustrated, and they want the Legislature to know it,” Sheldon said. “They don’t want higher taxes, and they don’t want to pay more for gas and electricity. If legislators think they are going to be greeted by cheering crowds when they return home this year, they are going to be very surprised.”

State spending is a central issue this year as majority Democrats in the House and Senate advocate higher taxes, despite a $5 billion increase in tax collections. Just eight percent of respondents said they believed the Legislature should raise taxes this year. A new income tax on capital gains, a favorite proposal for legislative Democrats, is opposed by 81 percent. 

Sheldon’s annual survey of frequent voters was sent last month to households in the 35th District, covering Mason County and parts of Kitsap and Thurston counties. Sheldon said the mail and online responses are a reflection of the mood of the most committed and engaged voters of the district. “When more than 90 percent of people express the same opinion, I think it is safe to call it a trend,” Sheldon said.

Other findings include:

  • 92 percent say they oppose proposals to raise taxes, nearly half of them saying the Legislature ought to return money to the taxpayers in the form of tax cuts.
  • 90 percent oppose higher taxes on small business.
  • 85 percent oppose Seattle’s plan to impose tolls on downtown streets, which would have great impact on outlying districts like the 35th, where there are no practical transit options.
  • 80 percent oppose low carbon fuel standards, a plan that would require motorists to subsidize carbon-reduction programs, very similar to the carbon-tax initiative rejected by Washington voters last fall.
  • 73 percent oppose replacing the state’s gas tax with a per-mile tax.
  • 84 percent oppose legislative efforts to prohibit independent contracting or impose high taxes on contractors, such as barbers, hairdressers and independent contractors.
  • 41 percent say jobs and the economy are the biggest issue before the Legislature.
  • 63 percent say saving the orca by rebuilding Puget Sound fish runs should be a priority.

Sheldon said he was impressed by the thoughtful comments voters sent along with their surveys. “Many expressed the same general thought in different ways. Some spoke up specifically for gun rights, while others talked about the need to respect the constitution and the liberties we all enjoy as citizens. Some say spending is too high and others say we have too many taxes.

“But when you get down to it, what the vast majority of people are saying is that they resent efforts to make government bigger and more expensive and more powerful, at the expense of the individual. That’s a message the Legislature needs to hear – even if it doesn’t want to.”

Sheldon noted some striking differences between this year’s survey and those he has conducted previously. As in prior years, the survey asked respondents to identify the issues of greatest importance, and allowed them the option of writing in a choice. Many this year identified issues that did not register in previous polls. These issues include homelessness and Seattle’s failure to enforce laws against vagrancy, creeping “socialism” in the state Legislature, and Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to use public tax money to pay for his security detail as he mounts his presidential campaign.

“I want to thank everyone who participated in this year’s survey and helped make it a success,” Sheldon said.   

Survey results

1,951 voters responded to this year’s survey. Results are as follows: