Spin Control

WA Lege Day 55: Tax debate on putting the whole thing on the ballot

OLYMPIA -- A move to put the tax package on the ballot in November is proposed by Republicans.

Sen. Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake,said the package should be called "the kitchen sink bill...As in sink Washington." A recent poll says people overwhelmingly think suspending Inititiative 960 was wrong thing to do. Eliminating the emergency clause and holding off on any taxes until voters have a chance to say yes or now would mean they would "Stop telling the working taxpayers just be quiet and pay up."

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, called the bill a massive tax increase, repeating the refrain that it is "the largest tax increase in the history of the state of Washington." Citizens have a right to have a say, he added. The state's was founded by pioneers who came West and weren't happy about the governments they left behind. They included the right of referendum and initiative, because they were afraid of measures just like this one.

"They knew how dangerous and tyrannical a government can be," Benton said.

Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina countered: "If you like the budget vote for it. If you don't like it, don't vote for it. Don't build budgets around referendums."

Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle, corrected Benton on his history: Initiative and Ref wasn't initally in the state constituion, it was added in 1912 or 1913.

The tax increase is not the largest in state history, Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane said. That honor belongs to a $1.1 million tax increase in 1981...when the Legislature was controlled by Republicans.

The measure fails 20-26.

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