Green Delaware ACTION ALERT: support Rep. Kowalko’s tax bills

The Markell administration supposedly left Delaware with a “structural” budget deficit approaching $400 million/year.  This does not seem surprising because Markell was essentially a Republican, and Republicans leave behind big deficits due to their habits of reducing taxes on those well able to pay them, while engineering big giveaways to the over-priviledged.

Governor John Carney has proposed a combination of spending cuts, and tax increases.  The income tax increases are even across the board.  Rep. John Kowalko has proposed–various times over the years, actually–to establish two new tax brackets for higher-income residents:

  • Those making more than $125,000 would pay 7.1 percent instead of 6.6 percent.
  • Those making more than $250,000 would pay 7.85 percent instead of 6.6 percent.

Right now the tax brackets top out at 6.6 percent at $60,000.)  Flat tax rates are inherently regressive.

There are actually several bills with minor variations, and they also tinker with standard deductions, and in some cases enact an across-the board reduction of one-half percent, but lets stick with the big picture here.  Kowalko says his key objective is to establish the two higher brackets.

Do you believe government needs to be adequately funded, effective, and focused on making life secure and rewarding for people?

Do you believe that those who have more and can afford to pay more should do so?

These, I suppose, are philosophical questions.  “Values” questions ,if you like.

It’s not in dispute that inequality of income is out of control.  That the “one percenters” are grabbing most of the pie, the “middle class” is becoming an obsolete term, and a great many people are barely getting by.

Look at some numbers:

Something called the “gini coefficient” is often used as a measure of income inequality. “A score of ‘0’ on the Gini ambien coefficient represents complete equality, i.e., every person has the same income. A score of 1 would represent complete inequality, i.e., where one person has all the income and others have none. Therefore, a lower Gini score is roughly associated with a more equal distribution of income, and vice versa.”

On this basis, Delaware didn’t look too bad in 2010, scoring 14 down from the most equal US state.

But look at this from the Economic Policy Institute: from 2001 to 2012, Delaware had the lowest overall income growth of any state, at 0.7 percent (national average 6.3 percent).  The one percenters incomes increased by 15 percent and the other 99 percent actually lost 1.6%. (Table 1)

The average income of Delaware’s one percenters was $863,734, while the average income of the bottom 99 percent was $46,686 (Table 2).  The average income of the top 0.01 percenters was $14,368,951 (Table 3).

For more on income inequality see this.

Do you think wealthy Delawareans can and should pay a little more state tax?

If so, please contact your state senator and representative, and Governor Carney, with you support for Rep. Kowalko’s proposals for two higher state income tax brackets.

“Who is my legislator?”
Directory including legislators’ home phone numbers and phone numbers for Gov. Carney’s offices.  From the League of Women Voters.
Senate member directory with pictures and contact information
House member directory with pictures and contract information

Kowalko’s bills are only baby steps towards economic justice, but we won’t get anywhere until we get started.

Without adequately funded services, including environmental regulation, Delaware is not likely to improve.

Upcoming Action Alert:  Ask Governor Carney to direct the DNREC to stop withholding public information.

Alan Muller

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