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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Eyman offers workaround for 2/3rds tax requirement

OLYMPIA -- For years, Tim Eyman and company proposed initiatives to require a super-majority for taxes. Voters approved them even though opponents said they were unconstitutional.

Turns out opponents were right, or so said the state Supreme Court in last year's ruling that such a change requires an amendment to the state Constitution. But Washington doesn't allow amending the Constitution by initiative; that has to start in the Legislature, get a super-majority there and then move to the ballot. A proposal along those lines last session didn't get much more than lip service.

Today Eyman proposed an initiative that attempts to goad the Legislature into approving such a constitutional amendment. It would cut the state sales tax by a penny, down to 5.5 cents per dollar in 2015 unless the Legislature approves an amendment in the 2015 session that requires a two-thirds yes vote for any tax increase. If they put that on the ballot, no sales tax cut. 

Eyman and his organization also filed initiatives to outlaw red-light cameras and re-instate $30 license tab fees, but the proposal to pass the supermajority or lose some of the sales tax proposal seems likely to be the initiative they will put their efforts, and their fund-raising machinery, behind. They filed numerous initiatives to the voters and the Legislature last year in an effort to force a 2/3rds amendment onto the ballot, but eventually abandoned them to concentrate on I-517, the initiative to change the initiative laws, which failed in November.

The proposal hasn't been issued a number yet. If history is any indicator, Eyman is likely to file several versions of the idea before settling on one to take to the printer and begin circulating.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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