Proposal: Would require the Legislature to approve and send to voters by April 15 a constitutional amendment that requires two-thirds super-majorities in both chambers to pass any future tax increase. If the Legislature doesn’t comply, the state’s sales tax would be reduced by 1 percent.
Background: If this seems like a familiar concept, that’s because voters have been asked to approve such super-majorities for tax increases five times since 1993. Voters regularly said yes, but after the first two times, the Legislature changed it back to a simple majority after two years, which is possible with initiatives. After I-1185 was approved in 2012, the concept was challenged in the state Supreme Court, which said such a change requires a constitutional amendment. But an amendment can’t come through the initiative process, it must start in the Legislature. I-1366 seeks to use the initiative process to force the Legislature to send an amendment to the ballot.
Supporting: This is the latest measure from perennial initiative developers Tim Eyman, of Mukilteo, and Mike and Jack Fagan, of Spokane, who also sponsored the previous versions. They point to strong voter support for the idea as a way to protect the public from a tax-hungry Legislature. It also has support from many conservative Republicans in the Legislature, and the state GOP. The campaign has raised $1.7 million, spending most of it to gather signatures to qualify for the ballot. Biggest financial backer is Clyde Holland, chairman of a Vancouver-based development company, who has given $540,000
Opposing: Permanent Defense with the Northwest Progressive Institute, perennial Eyman foes, and other progressive groups, labor organizations and many state Democrats oppose this measure, saying it gives control of tax decisions to a small minority in the Legislature who can vote against any proposal. They also argue that it’s unconstitutional because it tries to do indirectly with an initiative what the court already has said can’t be done directly. An opposition committee has raised $25,000, with $15,000 from the Service Employees International Union and $10,000 from the Federation of State Employees.
Prospects: A statewide survey by Elway Polls in July found the measure had a 49 percent approval rating, which is a bad position because approval is more likely to go down than up as an election approaches. Eyman also has some problems with the Public Disclosure Commission from past elections which could affect this campaign. If I-1366 passes, a court challenges is expected.
A proposed constitutional amendment to require tax increases to be approved by a two-thirds super majority moved out of Senate committee Thursday morning.
A legal challenge to the budget-smashing Initiative 1366 should be pursued as soon as possible.
If you want lawmakers to stop working together, vote for I-1366, because it would give a superduperminority of 17 legislators the power to stop a basic education tax plan.
Agree with The Spokesman-Review, or not, vote.
Retaliatory sales tax cut would reverse legislative efforts to comply with primary constitutional obligation to fund Washington schools.
Constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds vote on taxes would force lawmakers to cut spending first.