September 12th, 2007
Washington Research Council publishes report on I-960
The Washington Research Council, a business-supported think tank, has a new report (PDF) that echoes our criticisms of Tim Eyman’s latest plan to handicap government:
Initiative 960 is intended to make it more difficult for our elected representatives to raise taxes without referring the matter to a direct vote of the people. As such, it would take the state a step further away from representative democracy.
The value of delegating public decision making to a small number of representatives was well expressed by James Madison:
The effect of [the delegation of the government to a small number of citizens elected by the rest is] to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love for justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose. (Federalist 10)
The Research Council likes representative democracy. While both the initiative and the referendum provide useful checks on the legislature, public votes should be the exception not the rule.
We find the advisory ballots to be particularly problematic, as they are designed more to intimidate legislators rather than to engage the public. If the initiative passes, the two-thirds majority requirement will almost certainly be challenged for violating the state Constitution.
Learn more about I-960’s harmful ramifications for our state at Reasons to Oppose.