Just when I thought I’d heard everything comes an orchestrated groundswell of grassroots protest against the proposed expansion of the D.C. sales tax. Seems that relatively well-off fitness buffs are outraged that their gym memberships and yoga classes might be taxed.
The sales tax expansion is part of a package of revenue-raisers proposed by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and the more than 60 members of the Fair Budget Coalition. As they say, the sales tax hasn’t been updated to reflect the fact that people now purchase a wide variety of services, as well as the goods to which the tax applies.
If the DC Council doesn’t adopt some reasonable measures to increase tax revenues, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget will have to be balanced by devastating cuts in core programs and services.
We can get a glimpse of what this will mean in the mayor’s proposals for child care subsidies, adult education and training, affordable housing programs, community health services, legal aid for low-income residents and temporary cash assistance for those with severe disabilities.
Another glimpse, were one needed, in yesterday’s massive layoff of child welfare workers, including every one of those who provide much of the direct, day-to-day support for foster children and children at risk of removal from their families.
Yet at the very moment these workers were getting their pink slips, e-mails about the potential health club sales tax were flooding Councilmembers’ inboxes.
Whom will we hear from next? People who object to paying a few dollars more for private golf lessons, cleaning services for their hot tubs and professional advice on their closet space?