Tim Eyman is out getting signatures on his latest initiative for gridlock in Washington State. It is nothing new but a recycling of a failed experiment – namely that blocking the Legislature’s ability to raise revenue or repeal non-performing tax exemptions is good for Washington State. That policy has been a dismal failure.
Initiative 1185 is an attempt to get voters to re-pass Initiative 1053 which was passed by voters in 2010. Initiative 1053 required Legislators to get a 2/3 vote in the House and the Senate for any measure that raised revenue to fund state services.
Not once in 16 years has the Legislature been able to raise revenue under the 2/3 voting requirement because only a 1/3 minority of Legislators in either House can block a revenue increase. This statement was given recently in a Superior Court case attempting to declare I-1053 and its 2/3 vote requirement as unconstitutional.
The reason Eyman is recycling his 2/3 vote requirement is so that the Legislature can not amend I-1053 without a 2/3 majority. The Washington State Constitution allows the legislature to amend initiatives by a simple majority after 2 years but requires a 2/3 vote for the first two years after passage. Re-passing I-1053 as I-1185 would reset the 2/3 requirement for another 2 years.
I-1053 was supported by Big Oil, Wall Street Banks and other corporate interests that didn’t want the state to repeal special interest tax exemptions and loopholes or require them to pay more for the benefits of doing business in Washington State.
Eyman portrayed I-1053 as a measure to protect the average citizen taxpayer from big government but the reality is that 1053 is really a Corporate Tax Loophole Protection Act. Tax Loopholes exempt many corporations from paying taxes at the same rate as others. In essence it shifts the tax responsibility to other tax payers like working families.
I-1185, like I-1053, would require a 2/3 vote to repeal tax loopholes even if they are providing no benefit to the state. Tax exemptions only require a simple majority to pass in the first place. Meanwhile cuts to state services like education for our children and health care for seniors have been cut. Only a simple majority was needed to cut that funding.
I-1185 would continue tax protection for corporations while forcing more cuts in state services. As service costs increase due to inflation and revenue doesn’t increase due to a lagging economy more cuts will be necessary. Don’t sign Initiative 1185. It time to bring some sanity back to how we fund state services.