Officials listen to OUR Marysville's concerns

Washington state Rep. Kirk Pearson explains his nuanced position on tax incentives when asked to sign off on a ‘community commitment’ checklist from ‘OUR Marysville’ and Working Washington on July 6. - Kirk Boxleitner
Washington state Rep. Kirk Pearson explains his nuanced position on tax incentives when asked to sign off on a ‘community commitment’ checklist from ‘OUR Marysville’ and Working Washington on July 6.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — City and state elected officials met with members of “OUR Marysville” and Working Washington to discuss corporate tax loopholes and shortfalls in funding for education.

Jennings Park hosted Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, state senators Nick Harper and Mike Sells, and state Rep. Kirk Pearson on July 6, as Crystal Blanco of OUR Marysville — with “OUR” standing for “Organization United for Reform” — identified the membership of the group as 85 low- to moderate-income families who believe in being positive and proactive.

Linda Wright of Working Washington then introduced a row of students from Sunnyside Elementary who had taken part in a “sing-in” on June 30 to support their music teacher, whose days at their school were reduced for the coming school year.

“Our children don’t deserve to suffer because we can’t fund music programs,” Wright said.

When Blanco presented a “community commitment” checklist to the four elected officials, Nehring agreed to write a letter to JPMorgan Chase Bank, whose Marysville branch was the site of a protest by OUR Marysville and Working Washington on June 24, asking them to fund the Marysville School District for $5 million. He also pledged to bring the matter before his neighboring fellow mayors.

“I’m willing to help in any way that I can,” Nehring said. “I have good working relationships with other mayors, so I’m happy to give this topic a fair hearing during our meetings.”

Harper and Sells likewise checked off their portions of the community commitment, agreeing with OUR Marysville and Working Washington’s calls for them to work to expand basic health coverage among poverty-stricken state residents and to fully fund education as per the state Constitution by the end of the 2013 Legislative session. They also pledged to form a tax committee to close tax loopholes, such as those for out-of-state banks, to help restore funding cuts to education and health care.

Sells agreed with Harper that such measures would not solve the state’s problems with education entirely, and added that he’s joined the legal fight against the current two-thirds majority vote requirement.

“I support the concept of closing certain tax loopholes,” said Pearson, who declined to sign off on the community commitment checklist due to what he sees as the complexity of the issue. “If there’s a specific bill you want me to sign, I’ll look at it, and my doors are always open to working with your groups, but things like medical supplies technically fall under those loopholes, and I don’t want to do anything that could hurt seniors or the poor.”

Pearson pointed out that he’s supported basic health, sponsored an “education first” draft bill and made it “my crusade” to restore interest rate caps on credit cards. At the same time, he acknowledged that he does not support repealing the two-thirds requirement, which he worried could be used to expand taxes that could hurt the poor and middle class.

“It’s not just about taxes, but tax exemptions,” Sells countered. “I’ll admit that I’ve supported tax exemptions if they’ve kept jobs in the area. The two-thirds vote for taxes is not a problem, but for loopholes, it’s a problem.”

Sells bluntly told the crowd that bank chains like Chase draw their influence over the state Legislature from having “lots of money and lobbying power.” Harper identified groups such as OUR Marysville and Working Washington as the antidote to this status quo, since “having a roomful of voters in front of them reminds Legislators who they’re working for.”


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