I-1634 would help protect those living on a fixed income

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The cost of living in Washington state keeps going up, well above the rest of the nation. That doesn’t bother the wealthy here so much, but what about Washington retirees and seniors whose utility bills, rent, groceries and taxes keep going up when their savings are not?

At a recent event at Dave’s Meat & Produce in Tacoma, we discussed our limited grocery budgets and the difficult choices seniors and those living on a fixed income would have to make if increased grocery prices – and even taxes on food and beverages – drive up costs. We also discussed the need to say Yes on I-1634, on this November’s ballot, to protect the most vulnerable from increased prices on our basic necessities.

I-1634 would ensure that our groceries would be protected from any new or increased local tax, fee or assessment. It covers all food and all beverages – meat, poultry, canned goods, milk, coffee, bread, juice, and yes, even cookies and soda. This matters to people on a fixed income.

Seniors are among the most vulnerable when it comes to price increases on the basic items we all need to live. Many can’t afford to pay more, which means some would have to do without those goods if prices go too high.

I want to be clear because there is a lot of misinformation around this. Claims that state law prohibits taxes on food and beverages are incorrect – they don’t account for a loophole in the law that lets local governments apply a “privilege tax” to any product they want, including groceries, which could place a much larger tax burden on low- and middle-income families than the wealthy. The Office of the Attorney General issued an explanatory statement – in your voter pamphlet that arrives over the next week – that confirms this. This shows that not only are drinks like those taxed in Seattle at risk of being taxed, but everyday food items as well.

Those living on a fixed income can’t afford a tax that would raise the cost of some of the items in our grocery cart. Not only is it not fair, it would force us to make hard choices on what to cut from our budgets. Food is essential to the health and well-being of our seniors. Making food more expensive will harm us the most.

We need some level of assurance that the core things we need to live are protected from excessive taxes – and food and beverages are at the top of that list. What makes I-1634 so appealing and why I am voting yes is that it gives me a level of comfort as someone who can no longer supplement my income. It takes an important concern off the table and will make me rest easier.

I support I-1634 because it gives me the level of comfort as someone who can no longer supplement my income when prices rise. It takes a big concern off the table and will make me rest easier.

Remember, when it comes to I-1634 – a “yes” vote means prohibiting local grocery taxes. I urge you to vote yes on I-1634 in November. Keep our state prosperous and our grocery prices affordable.

Eloise Sletten has lived in Tacoma most of her life. She is recently retired, currently volunteers at a senior center and is passionate about working with her fellow seniors.

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