Formed in 1995 when professional
baseball wanted a sales tax increase to subsidize the Seattle Mariners, and continuing
through the statewide football campaign of 1997 for tax subsidies that resulted in the
construction of Qwest Field, Citizens for More Important Things has been a voice
of reason in the debate over spending tax money for professional sports
subsidies in Washington State.
With professional basketball now pitting sports tax
boosters against the people's pocketbooks, we're back, leading another fight for
fiscal sanity in sports stadium funding.
For conservatives, not
being able to say no to the extravagance of professional sports means government
will never say no to anybody for anything. Moderates wonder at the seeming
gullibility of elected officials when doused with the snake oil of sports as a
tool for economic development. And liberals are angry at a government that chronically
under-funds education and social services
but has a blank
checkbook for boys with big toys.
Citizens for More Important Things
has a single agenda--spend public money on the important
things, and leave sports entertainment to the private sector. We cross partisan
boundaries, and bring together normally opposing
voices. We simply question the reasonableness of any government that would subsidize
private entities whose average player salaries are in the millions of dollars per year.
Teachers should be so lucky.
supporters of publicly subsidized sports franchises argue that pro-sports bring
people together as communities, to see and enjoy the art of sport. No
doubt. But there are many things in public life that would be great for any
city. We have limited resources. At some point, we have to weigh the
cost, and set priorities, in light of the fairness of the subsidy to these very
well funded private enterprises.
Stadiums and professional sports are
powerful symbols. Voters, the public, sports fans, the media all pay close
attention to these debates. Because the outcome not only changes skylines when sports promoters win,
the shadow of the debates falls across public hearings and discussions of
public spending for schools, highways, and public services, for many years after
stadium construction is finished. And the unanswered question is nagging and
simple: If they can pay for that stuff, why can't
they afford what we need?
These are difficult battles.
Most, in America, are won by the sports moguls and their political cheerleaders.
At least in Washington
State, because of the efforts of thousands of Citizens For More Important Things
contributors and volunteers, they have not
been able to run completely roughshod over sane public policy and the taxpayer's
We are thankful to all who have helped, and
who are helping. Call, email, write. Send money. We need your
assistance. Without it, consider your tax dollars will likely be stuffed
somewhere, through someone else's golden hoop, and most likely, that
professional basketball player will already have earned millions, long before he
got to yours.