Recognizing that Tim Eyman’s latest oil and beer soaked initiative would prevent our Legislature from democratically functioning as our founders intended it to, the Everett Herald today emphatically recommended a NO vote on I-1185, joining NPI’s Permanent Defense and hundreds of other organizations in opposing the measure.
The paper’s stance is a reversal from just two years ago, when The Herald backed I-1185’s predecessor, I-1053. Of its change of heart, the paper’s editors wrote:
We were wrong. Rather than pressure reforms, Eyman’s supermajority rule has spurred paralysis. Rather than bolster creative solutions to benefit the average taxpayer, the two-thirds’ mandate is now one of the apron strings special interests hide behind to avoid ponying up.
The latest incarnation of Eyman’s supermajority effort, I-1185, is bankrolled by the likes of BP (the company that brought us the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) and ConocoPhillips. Each has contributed $100,000, with an additional $400,000 from the Beer Institute. Why so much loot from Big Oil and non-Washington booze interests? With 1185, it takes a simple majority vote in the Legislature to create a tax loophole, but a two-thirds’ supermajority to undo it. Not a bad scheme if you’re a deep-pocketed special interest. It’s a much higher hurdle, however, for Washington families that support tax fairness.
We commend The Herald for this editorial. It’s courageous, it’s thoughtful, and it’s honest. The Herald is correct in asserting that the two-thirds scheme leads to gridlock. It allows seventeen state senators and thirty-three state representatives to block bills that would raise revenue in their respective houses. That’s undemocratic and unconstitutional. Article II, Section 22 of our state Constitution plainly states that bills shall pass by majority vote. Majority vote means fifty out of ninety-eight in the House, and twenty-five out of forty-nine in the Senate. No more, no less.
Proponents of I-1185 don’t have a problem with allowing majority votes to decide the fate of legislation that creates new tax breaks, or in legislative parlance, tax preferences, as The Herald notes. But they argue that recovering revenue for our state treasury by repealing a loophole amounts to a tax increase, and should require a two-thirds vote. That’s a double standard. If it takes a two-thirds vote to get rid of a tax break, it should take a two-thirds vote to create one.
Like its predecessors I-960 and I-1053, I-1185 is unconstitutional, undemocratic, unfair, and unsound. Vote NO on I-1185.