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Originally published September 14, 2010 at 4:23 PM | Page modified September 14, 2010 at 5:14 PM

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Initiative 1098 is not a tax cut

Don't believe the hype of Initiative 1098 proponents, who are selling the proposal as a "tax cut." Yes, some other taxes are trimmed, but the income tax proposed would total $3 billion by 2014.

THE proponents of Initiative 1098 are pulling a fast one on voters by not calling I-1098 what it is: a tax increase.

Proponents for the tax hike have puffed up their argument like piñatas full of cheap candy talking about two taxes the initiative would cut, hoping to blind voters to the big tax increases I-1098 supporters really want.

By 2014, the state income tax created by I-1098 would be collecting more than $3 billion a year. Property taxes would be cut by $403 million and business taxes by $261 million. These are not the opponents' figures. They are the state's. And what they mean is that for every dollar of state income tax collected, the state expects to hand back 13 cents to property owners and 9 cents to business owners.

The state's ballot title has it right. It says: "Initiative measure 1098 concerns establishing a state income tax and reducing other taxes."

That is what I-1098 is. But it is not how its supporters describe it.

Consider their first TV ad. In it, Bill Gates Sr. disingenuously says, "1098 will cut state property taxes 20 percent." But state property taxes are only one-fifth of all property taxes. The actual cut in people's bills would be only about 4 percent. The people selling I-1098 know this and will admit it if you corner them. But they won't put it in their ads.

Nowhere in Gates' folksy ad does he utter the electric words "state income tax." Gates is a lawyer. He knows what kind of tax it is.

In the Voters Pamphlet, now available on line, the pro-1098 salesmen do use the words "income tax," but only after they have softened up the prospective voter with the sweet phrases "lower taxes," "cut taxes," "reduce taxes" and "tax cuts."

Initiative 1098 is not a tax cut. The $3 million that has been raised to sell it on television is mostly from state employee unions. They are not for tax cuts. They are for tax increases — which is what I-1098 is.

Let's call it by its right name.

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