Not only did voters for the fifth time in the past twenty years approve a supermajority for taxes requirement but they also are recommending that lawmakers repeal the two tax increases they adopted last session. Just in case a translation for these votes is really needed, lawmakers should focus their attention on balancing the 2013-15 without tax increases.
Since I-1185 was anything but new policy (most recently passed by 64% of the voters in 2010) our policy analysis advised voters to treat the decision as an opportunity to clearly frame the budget debate and send a message to Olympia that voters weren’t kidding the last four times they adopted this requirement with the hope that our elected officials will feel some obligation to their constituents to end this debate once and for all by referring the question to voters in the form of a constitutional amendment.
Earlier this year we sent a survey to all lawmakers and legislative candidates asking: “If Initiative 1185 is adopted, would you vote to allow the people of Washington to have the opportunity to vote on a state constitution amendment to require a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes?”
Of the 128 legislators and candidates responding (52% of recipients), 109 answered “Yes.”
Once the election results for legislative races are certified we will update the survey list to show how many of the “Yes” respondents were elected.
As we wrote earlier this year in this Tacoma News Tribune op-ed:
“A constitutional amendment would provide the public and businesses with predictability about whether this tax protection will exist from year to year and whether or not the four-time (pending fifth) approval of the voters for this policy was a fluke or actually reflects their consistent and ongoing desire for lawmakers to build a strong public consensus on the need for any proposed tax increase.
With voters and lawmakers repeatedly enacting the supermajority vote for taxes requirement over the past 20 years, what could be more representative of the public will than allowing a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to help end this debate once and for all?”
Whether a lawmaker supports or opposes this policy directive consistently sent by voters, at some point reality has to set in that requiring a supermajority vote for taxes or voter approval is the overwhelming will of the people.
The question remains, however, can Olympia hear us now?
Initial vote totals as of 11:26 p.m. 11/6:
- Initiative 1185: Yes – 64.5%; No – 35.5% (passing statewide including 54.5% in King County)
- Tax Advisory Vote 1 – B&O mortgage deduction: Repeal – 58%; Maintain – 42%
- Tax Advisory Vote 2 – Possession of petroleum: Repeal – 56%; Maintain – 44%
[Reprinted with permission from the Washington Policy Center blog; featured photo credit: practicalowl]
Not sure I would consider the two advisory votes an accurate barometer of the public’s opinion on state tax policy. Not a single person I talked to understood what they were vote for or what the bills in question actually did.
To say that repealing the large bank mortage tax credit cost $170 million is misleading at best when it actually saved the state $170 to put towards education and social services – things people usually support.
I hope the AG’s office can refine this language in future years so these advisory votes actually reflect voter sentiment.