One day after MLK Day I had the opportunity to testify in front of the WA Senate Ways and Means Committee on behalf of the Jewish Federation and the Faith Action Network about the state budget and opportunities for new revenue. I believe that our state taxation is excessively regressive, and there are means to examine new ways of funding important and needed programs. Here is my testimony as delivered:
Chair and Members of the Committee,
My name is Seth Goldstein, and I am a rabbi serving the Jewish community here in Olympia, and I am here representing faith communities and specifically the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and the statewide interfaith organization, Faith Action Network.
As we gather for this legislative session, I do not envy your position. There is much demand for the programs that serve the needs of the citizens of the state of Washington. There are many decisions that need to be made.
Our concern is this: that you take a broad vision in your crafting of a balanced and sustainable budget, and address the issue of our regressive tax structure which puts most of the burden on those who can least afford it. We support the institution of new revenue sources that would distribute the burden more fairly and equitably among all. We ask that you recognize that it takes a shared sacrifice to meet the needs of all of our citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable among us. Indeed, the maintenance of the status quo on revenue will have the double negative effect of maintaining a regressive tax structure while at the same time cutting services to those who need them most.
I think about the story of the Exodus in Scripture, of moving from slavery to freedom to the Promised Land. It was a story that inspired the contemporary spiritual leader Dr. King that we celebrated yesterday. And it is a story which continues to inspire us, for it teaches us the vision of a new reality.
We can create that new reality. We look to the institutions of government to bring about that vision of a “beloved community.” We ask that you exercise the authority and the trust place upon you by the citizens of this state to do so through means that are fair, moral and just.
Thank you very much.
You can also see the video here: