Costs of Living

This image shows the Smokey Point Costco in Snohomish County, Washington State doing their part to minimize health risks while still serving the community by limiting the number of shoppers inside at one time to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 during this pandemic.

Price inflation across the country hit 7% in 2021, the highest since 1982. Nowhere have costs of living increased faster than in the Seattle metropolitan area, including Snohomish County. Unless your pay went up by a double-digit percentage over the past year, you took a pay cut.

Congested supply chains leave working families staring at bare shelves, unable to buy essential products when they need them. Inflation always hits hardest those who can least afford it.

How does Olympia respond? With new taxes on the working class, restrictions raising prices and rates, and by raising gas prices which will slam both commuters and our supply chain.

And our representatives in the 44th District voted for all of this.

We have an economic emergency. It’s time to hire someone with the skills, independence, and experience necessary to make our economy work. We need an economist, not another politician.

For policies specific to major types of costs, click below:

Consumer spending on goods surged to record levels in 2021, driven by the pandemic and federal stimulus packages. Unable to keep up with demand, our entire supply chain ground to a near halt, sending prices of everyday items soaring and leaving many shelves barren. We have a massive backlog of items stored away in ports and warehouses where there simply aren’t enough workers available to make progress. Some parts of the supply chain have surged to meet demand, only to be dragged down by the parts which have not. Our supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

We must recognize our supply chain crisis for what it is: an economic emergency that threatens our state and our country. Until supply chains can resume normal operations, the following temporary, emergency measures should be undertaken:

  • Require all Port of Seattle and Port of Tacoma terminal truck gates operate 24/7
  • Create a fund to compensate truckers for port waiting times and Class B CDL training expenses
  • Waive all CDL renewal fees
  • Waive all zoning restrictions limiting the storage of shipping containers
  • Allow warehouses and distribution centers to write off worker wages in receiving against their B&O tax burden if in operation 24/7

Much of our current inflation issues trace back to the COVID pandemic. Consumers, fearful of catching the disease, have substituted away from purchasing in-person services like movies and dental appointments, instead increasing how often they buy physical goods, especially online. This has increased prices through higher demand and has strained supply chains to the point of breaking and widespread shortage. Ultimately, ending the pandemic and getting people back to normalcy solves many of these issues.

Science conclusively demonstrates that the COVID vaccine is crucial to reducing the severity of the disease and preventing hospital overcrowding and triage. I am fully vaccinated including a booster, and I even volunteered at a vaccine clinic early in its distribution. I am a strong supporter of this great scientific marvel and believe anyone who refuses the vaccine for non-medical reasons and without natural immunity is unnecessarily harming themselves and their community. For those who are fully vaccinated, I believe there is little to fear from the virus, and life should return to normal. The sooner everyone does their part, the sooner we can all put this behind us.

Our state’s vaccine mandate has been enforced with little regard for scientific rationale. It makes little sense for the state to refuse assistance in clearing vital roadways of snow just because the workers alone in a truck may not be vaccinated. It definitely does not make sense for hospitals to ask COVID-positive vaccinated nurses to work when COVID-negative unvaccinated nurses are barred from the same job. It makes zero sense to fire unvaccinated employees who had already recovered from a COVID infection and thus acquired natural immunity at least as strong as a vaccinated person.

My solution to hospital overcrowding would be construct a central field hospital, as we did in 2020, where all unvaccinated COVID-positive hospitalizations are taken. Doing so would relieve local hospitals to focus on normal but crucial operations while making resource allocations more efficient for treating serious COVID cases. People need to internalize the costs of their reckless decisions, but I would not fire workers in a time of labor shortage except at the very end of need.

Washington has one of the highest state gas taxes in the country at nearly 50 cents per gallon (on top of the federal 18 cent gas tax). This tax is increasing in 2022 thanks to the 2021 cap-and-trade bill, supported by the 44th District’s Rep. April Berg and Sen. John Lovick– directly by 5 cents and indirectly through the new carbon credit system, perhaps by as much as another $2 per gallon by 2024.

Gas taxes disproportionately harm the working class and further raise costs within our supply chain, only making inflating grocery and goods prices even higher. Worse yet, the infrastructure projects these tax increases fund see limited oversight, routine cost overruns, ever more distant times to completion, and improper maintenance thereafter so that more new construction can be funded.

While I do not oppose infrastructure investment on principle, our state’s current administration has proven time and again they cannot act responsibly with this money. We already have record tax revenue, but they can’t help but come back for more. It’s time to say enough is enough.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has repeatedly attempted to unilaterally ban the use of credit scores in setting auto, homeowners, and renters insurance premiums under the guise of addressing systemic racism. Without the ability to use credit scores, insurance companies will not be able to adequately assess individual levels of risk, inevitably leading to large increases in premiums for seniors and individuals with good credit scores.

This policy should be opposed for two reasons: first, it will raise rates on those with good credit histories far more than it will decrease rates for those with poor credit. The policy increases the overall level of risk in the market, necessitating insurance companies collect higher overall premiums than otherwise.

Second, banning the use of credit scores takes away a vital individual-level assessment of claim utilization, but does not take away the need for insurance companies to assess individual risk. Credit scores are a meaningful proxy for how often someone files a claim, even within racial groups. Without this tool, insurance companies will be forced to rely on more aggregated sources of data, meaning individuals in relatively higher risk portions of the population will suddenly have a reduced ability to rise above their peers. Someone who lives in a poor neighborhood or who is within a relatively riskier demographic group would no longer be able to rise up and out of higher premiums through merit and responsibility, locking them into a permanently prejudiced situation. Their agency is stolen from them.

While I very much support efforts to help to individuals escape poverty, banning credit score use in insurance rates actually locks poor individuals into poverty and systemic racism, not frees them.

Washingtonians have repeatedly voted down attempts to establish state income and capital gains taxes. These taxes discourage work and investment on the margin, dragging down our economy and punishing productivity. In 2021, despite record tax revenue, Democrats in the legislature passed a new capital gains tax, including votes to pass from the 44th District’s April Berg and John Lovick.

In November 2021, 67% of voters in the 44th District voted to repeal this tax. We need representatives who listen to the residents of our district, especially on the rare day that two-thirds of them agree on something.

While I am not vehemently anti-tax in all circumstances, I oppose state income and capital gains taxes being enacted here and would vote to repeal the 2021 capital gains tax.