Posts tagged: SB 6310
OLYMPIA – Debate over the need for supermajorities to raise taxes stretched into its second night Wednesday in the House of Representatives and invoked everything from the Gospel to the law of the jungle.
There were warnings about taking away the voice of the people, who passed the initiative by a 51 percent majority in 2007, and warnings about gutting programs that people need to educate their children or build their roads.
There were quotations from great minds, like Thomas Jefferson, who warned about big governments, the evangelist Mark, who started his Gospel with the admonition to repent, and Isoruku Yamamoto, the Japanese admiral who bemoaned waking the sleeping giant of the American people after bombing Pearl Harbor.
There was a dispute on whether it was easier to raise taxes and not do the hard work of reforming state government, or easier to cut the budget to avoid facing voters and explain the need for taxes.
In the end, the House voted 51-47 to do what everyone expected: suspend the two-thirds majority required to increase taxes through mid-2011, allowing majority Democrats to raise taxes to help fill a projected $2.8 billion budget gap. The Senate voted to suspend the initiative last week, but because the House changed some of the provisions, the bill must go back for a new vote in the other chamber..
Democrats in the House and the Senate have yet to release budget plans, but Gov. Chris Gregoire released her newest budget package Wednesday, and it has more than $600 million in tax increases, coupled with some $1 billion in cuts.
Most Republicans who took the floor Wednesday night to denounce the bill used up every second of their allotted 10 minutes for speeches. They talked repeatedly of the will of the people, who, Rep. Dan Roach said, “want it to be hard to raise taxes.”
But Rep. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, said cutting state programs will further divide the “haves” from the “have nots” and harm the state as a whole.
“It’s not the rule of the jungle where the big dogs eat the little dogs,” Hasegawa said.
For a look at how they voted, go inside the blog
OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats were forced to hit the replay button Wednesday night and hold another debate on a bill to suspend voter imposed limits on tax increases.
That gave Republicans a chance to once again complain that they were thwarting the “will of the people” by setting aside requirements for a two-thirds majority to raise taxes, place such increases on a November ballot for an advisory vote and issue financial projections on any bill that would affect state revenue.
It gave Democrats a chance to once again assert the state was in the worst financial times since the Great Depression and desperate times call for bold action.
In the end, the result was essentially the same. After more than about two hours of debate on various Republican amendments – all of them failed – and the suspension itself, the Senate voted 26-22 to suspend all of I-960 through the first half of next year. After that, all provisions for supermajority passage of tax increases, public advisory votes and fiscal notes would come back into law.
A Tuesday bill that merely suspended the supermajority provisions – although Democrats mistakenly thought it suspended the whole initiative – passed 26-23. The difference Wednesday: Sen. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane Valley, was absent.
Between now and then, however, are this year’s session, which is mainly dedicated to fixing an estimated $2.6 billion gap between what the state is expected to collect in taxes and what it would need to pay out for the projects and services it now has.
Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed a budget in December that would close that gap strictly by cutting state programs, jobs and services, but she has since said she wants to “buy back” some of those cuts with a combination of new federal money and tax increases.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, said Democrats will not bring an “all cuts” budget to the Senate floor because it would devastate too many programs for children, the sick and the elderly.
But that means tax increases, which Republicans generally oppose. Even if all Democrats were to vote on a tax increase their leaders proposed, they’d still be one vote shy of the two-thirds majority, and even within their ranks some members are unlikely to support some proposals.
They probably do have, however, a simple majority available for most increases currently being discussed.
For a breakdown of how the Senate voted, go inside the blog