Progressive State Income Tax for Washington State




Eric Paulsen

       The purpose of this paper is to present an argument in support of Washington State adopting a progressive state income tax.

        I am a math teacher with 9 years of math teaching experience at Tacoma Schools in Washington State.  I taught math for Tacoma from 1990 to 1999.  As the result of graduate study at the University of Washington 2000 - 2001, and as the result of my teaching experience, today I am an advocate for better funding for all K-12 schools in Washington State.  After the failure of I-1098 in 2010, I began to do some research on the subject of the Washington State tax system itself.  Today I support Legislative action that would lead to passage of a bill that supports a progressive state income tax.

   On Apr. 9th, 2018 the Supreme Court Clerk’s office filed “The State of Washington’s Memorandum Transmitting The Legislature’s 2018 post-budget report.”  This memorandum has to do with the McCleary v. The State of Washington case. The memorandum contains a graph that shows that “Biennial State Funding for K-12 Public Schools” has risen from $13.6 billion in 2009-2011 to $26.7 billion in 2019 -2021. 




The Legislature believes it has provided adequate funding for Education as required by the Supreme Court in the McCleary case. (1) Although spending for Education has risen, Education expenses have risen also. (2)




          Also the State of Washington’s population has risen over this same time period. (3)




Each year the Washington State Treasurer publishes a report, “Debt Affordability Study, 2018." This report shows that the State of Washington is actually over $21 billion in debt. (4)




             If the State of Washington’s population rises, then the expenses associated with K-12 public schools also have risen.  It is true that State Funding for Public Schools (and all other programs) has risen.  However if you subtract State Funding for Public Schools (and all other programs) from Total State Revenue each year, the net result is that The State of Washington is going into debt about $2 billion each year. (4) Why go through all the trouble of the McCleary Case and not adequately fund every Department funded by the State of Washington?

          To adopt a progressive state income tax would require a vote of the people to become law since it would require a change in the State’s Constitution. This same source of revenue could be used to eliminate many currently unpopular state taxes for both of individuals and corporations. This was the recommendation of the Washington State Tax Structure Study Committee, Nov. 2002. The chair of this Committee was William Gates Sr.


       This Committee had a very large and important Advisory Group that included Boeing and Microsoft. (5, Appendix H, I)


       If you have any comments or questions please try to share them to my e-mail, mathteacher4@live.  


Eric Paulsen





1)      “The State of Washington’s Memorandum Transmitting The Legislature’s 2018 post-budget report”, Supreme Court, State of Washington, Apr. 9, 2018


2)       “Statewide Expenditure History, Operating and Capital, Total Budgeted for Public Schools,”

3)        “State of Washington Population Trends,” Forecasting and Research Division, Office of Financial Management, 2017

4)       “Debt Affordability Study, 2018,” Washington State Treasurer, Dec. 2017


5)      “Tax Structure final report, Tax Alternatives for Washington State,                   Appendix H and I,” Department of Revenue, Washington State, Nov. 2002.  

















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