Lots to unpack here.
First: All taxes are tough, especially on lower income people. No arguments there. And ... taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.
Second: Given Larry Dzieza's credentials as a former State budget analyst, I would hope he also recognizes the high cost of other property tax exemptions, often called "tax expenditures" in govt speak. These include property tax exemptions for faith communities and qualified non-profit organizations. If we put all of these up to a vote, I wonder how anti--tax voters would pick & choose: yes to churches, no to LGBTQ youth organizations? Public schools are exempt, so should home-schoolers be able to pro-rate their property taxes to opt out of subsidizing them? Can proponents of more housing (i.e. the MFTE) swap that property tax for church exemptions associated with faith communities that demonize the LGBTQ community?
Third: Subsidized housing, while near & dear to my heart is not the only "public goods" that we buy with the MFTE. By concentrating new construction in the urban hub, we slow down the explosive growth that gobbles up our surrounding rural areas. Suburban sprawl has HUGE negative impacts on the environment. And an indirect public good is the fact that more neighbors mean more sales tax they join us in paying - sales tax being one of the pillars of Olympia's tax base.
Fourth: News flash: we are still in the midst of a housing shortage. According to State Commerce, we need to build another 12,000 homes in the next 20 years, housing at all price points. Our rental vacancy rate is the lowest of the metropolitan area of King, Pierce & Thurston Counties at 2.5% according to Thurston Regional Planning Council. We need more housing, lots of it. The MFTE is one of the best tools to increase the number of homes. Another effective tool is zoning - opening up single family neighborhoods to allow multi-family housing, or at least what is called, "middle housing" of duplexes and triplexes. In recent years, some of the critics quoted who are against the MFTE have also been opponents of Olympia's Missing Middle. It's fair to ask - how should we get the housing we need? Or is opposition to more housing the real issue here?
Nobody likes to pay taxes but most folks like what you get: roads, schools, parks. public safety, clean water and other standards of living that we have come to depend on. Tax-funded support for more housing is another need. Our region is growing and we've to figure out where all our new neighbors are going to live.
Disclosure: I spent nearly 40 years at the City of Olympia working on housing, social service and homeless issues & funding
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