Dear Slade Gorton: Some Charities Aren't Concerned About I-1098

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Last night, during a town hall debate on I-1098, former Republican Senator Slade Gorton told an audience at the University of Washington-Tacoma that the proposed income tax on the wealthy would reduce charitable giving. There's logic to Gorton's argument. It's certainly possible that, if I-1098 passed, money that would have otherwise gone to charities would now feed the state's coffers. But that's not stopping some of those same charities from coming out in favor of the proposal.

I talked today with a few of the groups Gorton might have been referencing last night. And the overall impression I got was that while they're not sure what might happen if approximately three percent of the wealthiest Washingtonians end up with a little less money come tax time, they're pretty sure the possible negative impact on their bottom lines would be mitigated by the positive affect the proposal would have on those they serve.

Cherly Cobbs, Executive Director of Solid Ground, a charity that focuses on the poor, says that I-1098 may affect some of her donors. Like a lot of charities, Solid Ground pays its bills through donations of all shapes and sizes, including some of upwards of $500,000 a year. But Cobbs says Solid Ground is focused on the bigger picture.

"[I-1098] may have some impact on giving," she says, "But the more important point is that this state has one of the most regressive tax systems in the country. And that trumps any potential fallout."

As you might expect of a group focused on all things kids, Children's Alliance is also in I-1098's corner. Something you could fairly well assume, given that 70-percent of the $1.6 billion said to be raised by I-1098 next year would be dedicated towards education.

Of course, when he said "charitable giving" Gorton may have had other groups in mind. Say a cultural institution like the Seattle Art Museum or a school like the University of Washington, whose missions might not exactly correlate with groups focused on the needy. But either way, you can be sure that not all of the charities Gorton is invoking agree with his position.

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