Debate on Income Tax for City of Olympia Residents
Date:  10/10/2016
Today’s Program:  Opportunity for Olympia Debate (Proposition 1)
Meeting Called to Order by President-Elect Christy Peters at 12:22 pm
Invocation by:  Allen Miller
Pledge of Allegiance led by:  Kyle Cronk
Song:  Dennis Williams led us in the “Star Bangled Banner”
Four Way Test led by:  Laura Arnone
Visiting Rotarians were introduced by Gretchen Sturtevant
Guests of Rotarians were introduced.
Happy Bucks:
            Chris Lanese – New grant for the Family Support Center
Mark Boyer – Huskies beat the Ducks; Successful Big Brothers Big Sisters Auction
Judy Henderson – Report on Rotary Exchange to New Mexico; brought back books!
Marie Dauve’ (our new foreign exchange student) – Visit to Mt Rainier
Sam Bovard – Both Cougs and Huskies won!  On-line lunch tickets now available; Book Club tomorrow night; and most important. . . daughter just got married!
Greg Bucove-His mother just celebrated her 102nd birthday.
Announcements/Club Business:
Kim Dinsmore previewed some wine for the wine baskets that will be auctioned off at Cool Jazz Clean Water Festival & Evening of Wine Tasting on Nov 19, 2016.  Kim has tickets and “very cool” T-shirts on sale now at the table out front at our meetings of from Kim Dinsmore @ .  You can also volunteer to serve wine at this event.  Proceeds will benefit local music students and people in need of clean water around the world. This is our major Rotary interclub fundraiser.
Scuderi Farm Fresh Eggs were sold to our visiting guest, Gary Edwards, for $25.
Reminder:  You can now buy lunch tokens on-line prior to the meeting.  It is very easy, and you don’t even need to remember your member log-in!
Program:  Debate on Opportunity for Olympia, Olympia ballot initiative, Proposition 1.  If passed, the initiative would institute a 1.5% tax on Olympia households with net incomes of $200,000 or more.  The revenue realized from this proposed net income tax would fund college tuition for City of Olympia public high school graduates who attend a public college in the State of Washington. 
Gerry Alexander moderated the debate; Representative Sam Hunt spoke on behalf of Proposition 1, and Jim Haley spoke against it.
Each debater was given five minutes to present their arguments, then audience members were able to ask questions of the debaters.
Highlights from Sam Hunt speaking in favor of Proposition 1: 
  • There is an ongoing crisis in paying for higher education since there is no dedicated funding source; 
  • The McCleary decision for K-12 education is taking budget priority; 
  • College tuition was increased for 6 years following the recession, then the legislature reduced it last year; 
  • 4700 signatures were collected from Olympia voters to put the initiative on the ballot (this number has been corrected by Mayor Cheryl Selby);
  • There will be a court challenge.  Outside funders will try to limit legal liability to the city.
Highlights from Jim Haley speaking against Proposition 1: 
  • This is an invitation to a long legal defense that will cost the city lots of money; 
  • Olympia is a city with a huge heart – we need to direct resources to more critical areas such as mental illness, drug addiction, housing and parking.  We also need a robust downtown; 
  • If passed, this initiative will require the city to create a tax collection arm; 
  • There is no way to enforce the initiative.  Paying the tax would be voluntary;
  • Cities cannot legally levy a tax on net income;
  • This ballot measure was not Olympia’s idea; it came from a Seattle think tank.
Several audience question followed.  Here are the answers:
  • About 3% of Olympia residents make more than $200,000.
  • Some are concerned that the money collected will not cover the cost of the scholarships; although the initiative also allows for grants.
  • Some people may quit giving money to other scholarship efforts.
  • Some concern that the initiative will cost the city more than 5% to administer.
  • This would not take place until 2018.
  • Any future changes to the initiative would need to be approved by the voters.
  • This could discourage market rate housing in downtown Olympia.
  • Scholarships are not based on need – every Olympia graduate would be eligible to apply.
Mayor Selby pointed out that the city has already spent $100,000 in legal fees.
Next week’s program will feature Medrice Coluccio on Providence’s commitment  to a Mental Health and Community Care Center.  Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about why Providence wants to do this, what services they would offer, and possible locations for this facility and more. 
The meeting was adjourned at 1:20 pm.