What’s in it for us?This very headline causes me to cringe. It speaks to selfishness and an unwillingness to sustain what might be for the common good. However, when related to taxation, it is an important question and a way to determine the value of goods and services provided by our government.
I am relatively new to this area, so I cannot speak as an expert but I am totally perplexed by this push by Washingtonians for a new Columbia River Crossing. Millions of dollars have already been spent to study a project that appears to clearly provide more economic benefit to our Oregon neighbors. Easing the passage over the Columbia River would seem to benefit Portland and the State of Oregon much more than Washington and those of us in Clark County.
This disproportionate benefit seems to be largely driven by differences in how each state government is funded. Oregon is dependent on a state income tax. People that work in Oregon and live in Washington pay Oregon state income tax. Those who live in Oregon and work in Washington are required to pay the State of Oregon as well. Would anyone paying income tax to the State of Oregon have the slightest qualm about shopping in Oregon to avoid sales tax, regardless of what side of the river they live on?
Washington, on the other hand, relies on a consumption or retail sales tax. Most food is exempt from this tax. Sales tax is collected at the point of purchase and use tax is required for purchases in Oregon made by Washington residences. While this use tax is required by law, I would guess that it is paid on a very, very small percentage of Oregon purchases and would be very difficult and/or expensive to enforce.
Clearly, the current differences in tax methods would encourage both Washington and Oregon residents to shop in Oregon.
So I am back to my original question, what’s in it for us?
Will building another or higher capacity bridge across the Columbia River promote economic development in Clark County or just magnify the existing economic disparity between the two regions? Is there really a return on investment for Washingtonians?
Would the State of Oregon be as interested in a new Columbia River Crossing if they were required to collect sales tax on behalf of the State of Washington on purchases made by Washington residents in Oregon? We are already required to collect personal income tax withholding on behalf of the State of Oregon. Wouldn’t a reciprocal arrangement on sales tax be fair?
I realize these are “fighting words.”
Initially, Clark County’s proximity to the Portland market probably contributed significantly to the growth of the County. The property taxes alone must have allowed for a rapid expansion of community infrastructures. However, Vancouver and its surrounding Clark County neighbors have now become or are becoming their own economic centers. Can we afford any project that would magnify an already existing economic disadvantage?
What if we chose to do nothing regarding the Columbia River Crossing until equitable, verifiable economic benefits could be determined for each region? If Oregon wants to build another bridge, without first establishing that economic equity, let them build it at their expense.
After all, why should we pay unless there is something in it for us?
Steve WalkerWhat's in it for us?
A massive waste of billions.
A $100,000,000 plus yearly hole in our local economy forever.
Low-income and single parent commuters getting hammered.
Loot rail that we don't want or need.
No change in congestion or freight mobility.
The sucking up of hundreds of millions that could have been used elsewhere to build another bridge in a different location.
We get to watch the slimeballs ramming this crap pile down our throats without a vote pay so they can off their buddies at our expense.
And one last thing: "Washingtonians" aren't pushing for this steaming pile. A few corrupt, self-appointed scum are pushing for it. See, we haven't been allowed a vote.
Other than that... nothing.