January 11th, 2010
Permanent Defense, MajorityRules respond to Eyman’s attempt to re-impose minority rule
The Northwest Progressive Institute’s Permanent Defense project and MajorityRules.org – both part of the successful NO on Initiative 1033 Coalition that stopped Tim Eyman’s scheme to trap Washington in a permanent recession – today responded to the umpteenth filing of Tim Eyman’s new attempt to reimpose an unconstitutional two thirds barrier to raising revenue.
“Once again, Tim Eyman is assaulting our cherished tradition of majority rule with a recycled, poorly conceived initiative,” said Northwest Progressive Institute Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “Eyman’s goal is to give control of fiscal decisions in our state to a minority of the Legislature, in direct violation of Article II, Section 22 of our Constitution, which specifically says that bills shall pass by majority vote. We have Article II, Section 22 because our Framers understood that representative democracy requires majority rule with minority rights.”
“Minority rule isn’t democracy; it’s a recipe for legislative gridlock. Why should we listen or trust someone who purposely wants to jam the gears of government and wreck our common wealth?” Villeneuve asked.
“Tim Eyman’s new scheme is blatantly unconstitutional, unfair, and unsound, just as Initiative 960 was. It’s no surprise that Republican legislators like Janea Holmquist and Pam Roach have jumped on the Tim Eyman station wagon: Without this scheme in place, they don’t have the ability to obstruct the work of the majority, which was elected by the people of Washington to responsibly govern our state and protect its public services,” Villeneuve added.
“One of the reasons that California continually has severe budget crises is because they require two thirds votes for approval of all budgets, which include any new revenue,” noted Steve Zemke of MajorityRules.org. “The last thing we need is to become known as the next California.”
“Unfortunately, Eyman’s undermocratic scheme would also prevent the Legislature from repealing out of date, unneeded tax exemptions which are no longer in the public interest, because it allows a one third minority of the Legislature to block reform,” Zemke added.
“Over the last two years, voters have spoken decisively and clearly in rejecting Initiatives 985 and Initiative 1033, because they realize that cuts, gimmicks, and shortcuts aren’t the answer to our problems,” Villeneuve reflected. “The people want the Legislature to be able to addess this budget crisis unshackled. They want our representatives to be able to respond positively to meet our shared needs.”
Zemke observed that in the same year (2007) that voters narrowly passed Initiative 960, they also approved a constitutional amendment to reduce the bar for passage of school levies from sixty percent to a simple majority. “People feel an obligation to support their communities; all they ask is that they be taxed fairly. But this scheme does not make our tax system fairer or more equitable. It just makes a bad situation worse,” Zemke concluded.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, NPI’s Permanent Defense and MajorityRules will be working hard to form a new coalition to oppose Eyman’s latest measure and protect Washington’s tradition of majority rule.