Ahead of regional summit, left-leaning policy groups say ‘No’ to a sales tax for Metro – The Washington Post

By Faiz Siddiqui

A regionwide one-cent sales tax to fund Metro would have a disproportionate impact on poor families, taking five times the share of income from the bottom 20 percent of earners when compared with those in the top 1 percent, according to a new analysis from a trio of left-leaning think tanks representing the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Calling recent service cuts, fare hikes and a potential sales tax a “triple whammy” on the region’s low-income residents, the groups are pressing local officials to ditch the sales tax proposal in favor of flexible, jurisdictional financial commitments, with each government finding its own way to pay for Metro’s long-term needs.

“It’s not right to ask the families who are least well-off to shoulder the biggest responsibility for fixing Metro, while leaving busi­nesses and high-income families off the hook,” said Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, one of three groups that participated in the analysis.

The other two organizations who participated are the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. The think tanks join labor groups, including Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Metro’s largest union, in opposing the sales tax.

“When we’re asking a family who maybe tomorrow is skipping a meal, or two or three by the end of the month, ‘Hey, we need another 50 bucks for Metro,’ that is food that’s being taken off their table because they are spending all of their income,” said Benjamin Orr, executive director at the Maryland Center on Economic Policy. “In many cases, their bills and their obligations, and what they need to survive, exceeds what their income is.”

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