The 2/3 vote requirement rule for the Washington State Legislature to act on revenue measures imposed by Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 needs to be overturned. Everyone acts as if it is law, including most of the Washington State Legislators, but it is unconstitutional. The issue is before the Washington Court system and needs to be resolved.
I-1053 has created a crisis for our state. It has limited the options of our state government to address our current financial crisis. The result is that the state is being forced to continue to cut basic services like education and health care. It is driving the crisis into a downward spiral.
The state has already cut it’s budget by $10 billion and is facing another $2 billion in cuts just to balance its current budget.
The I-1053 campaign is just another example of misguided anti-government legislation that unfortunately has an opposite effect from what many voters thought they were voting on. They bought the rhetoric thinking it was good for the average citizen in this state.
However it was Big Business and Corporate interests in this state that saw the measure for what it was – another opening to consolidate their power over the State Legislature. Corporations like the Bank of America and BP saw that this so called rule gave them virtual immunity from the threat of seeing their special interest tax exemptions being repealed once Eyman’s definition of a tax increase included repeal of tax exemptions. Voters missed this.
The Legislature over the years has passed special interest tax exemptions with a simple majority vote of 50%. These tax exemptions now exceed revenue from collected taxes. These tax exemptions are really expenditures of state money that if not in place could be used for other purposes like educating our youth and creating jobs. I-1053 has essentially grandfathered existing tax exemptions in permanently. That is because a 2/3 vote in both houses is needed to repeal them. This is almost impossible to do, considering that special interests only need to secure the votes of 17 Legislators out of 147 to stop a revenue measure being passed.
I-1053 also makes it almost impossible to raise any taxes on business. So the State is left with essentially one option to pay its bills and balance the budget – cutting programs. Unfortunately for Washington residents, cutting means ending services and jobs that benefit the majority of Washington voters, especially the middle class and working families.
It’s time to take back the Legislature from the special interests and reject the 2/3 voting requirement. There is a basic constitutional issue here. What has happened is that on revenue issues, I-1053 is saying that if Legislators are for revenue increases or repealing tax exemptions, their vote only counts as half a vote, rather than a full vote, in trying to pass measures. Nothing in the Constitution says that this is the case or that this is allowed.
I-1053 was an initiative, not a constitutional amendment. You can not change the constitution with an initiative. The Washington State Constitution says that bills shall be passed by majority votes, not by 2/3 votes. I-1053 is unconstitutional and the courts need to reject it so the state can address it’s financial problems without special interests calling the shots.
The people also need to reject any further measures by Eyman trying to reaffirm I-1053. He will be running another one in 2012. The reason for this is that for the first two years after an initiative is passed, it takes a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to amend it. After that it is a majority vote. By passing another 1053 type initiative, it would extend for two more years the inability of the Legislature to amend the 2/3 vote requirement. Voters need to understand that I-1053 style initiatives requiring a 2/3 vote to pass revenue measures benefits special interests a lot more than the average voter.
It’s time to reject the 2/3 vote requirement and take back the Legislature from the special interests.