The Washington State Democrats at their April 18, 2015 quarterly meeting in Pasco, Washington passed a resolution opposing Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366. Initiative 1366 is expected to be on the Nov 2015 ballot.
Initiative 1366 is a Senator Ted Cruz Tea Party style measure, trying extortion tactics to impose minority rule over Washington State’s budget and revenue policy. In what is probably an unconstitutional move, it intends to slash a billion dollars a year from the Washington State budget unless Legislators put a constitutional amendment for 2/3 votes to raise revenue or repeal tax exemptions on the ballot.
The Washington State Constitution says only Legislators have the power to place a constitutional measure on the ballot by a 2/3 vote of both houses. Eyman is ironically unable to convince legislators to do what he wants them to do and so is resorting to extortion tactics. He could just as easy have said Legislators would not be paid unless they vote for a constitutional amendment, or they would lose their driver’s license or they would be sent to jail until they vote for what he wants. That is extortion and not legal.
Here is the official ballot title and summary from the Washington State Secretary of State’s website:
Initiative Measure No. 1366 concerns state taxes and fees.
This measure would decrease the sales tax rate unless the legislature refers to voters a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and legislative approval for fee increases.
Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]
Ballot Measure Summary
This measure would decrease the state retail sales tax rate on April 15, 2016, from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent. The sales tax rate would not be decreased if, by April 15, 2016, two-thirds of both legislative houses refer to the ballot a vote on a constitutional amendment that requires two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and majority legislative approval to set the amount of a fee increase.
Below is the text of the resolution passed by the Washington State Democrats:
Resolution Opposing Initiative Measure 1366
WHEREAS Tim Eyman, Mike Fagan, and Jack Fagan have sponsored and are circulating petitions for Initiative 1366, filed on January 5th, 2015 as an initiative to the people for 2015;
WHEREAS I-1366 would reduce the sales tax, and therefore approximately $1 billion in state revenue every year, thereby preventing the increased spending on K-12 education required by the McCleary decision, while jeopardizing higher education, transportation and the social safety net, unless the State Legislature follows the dictates of the initiative and sends to the voters a constitutional amendment undemocratically requiring a two- thirds vote in each House of the Legislature to raise revenue or repeal any tax loophole;
WHEREAS the Washington State Supreme Court in February 2013, in League of Education Voters v. State of Washington, struck down as unconstitutional a requirement of a supermajority vote to raise revenue, and Eyman’s I-1366 comprises a devious attempt to evade that ruling by coercing lawmakers into colluding in his underhanded scheme to overturn it by holding all state funding hostage;
WHEREAS either the loss of a billion dollars per annum to our common wealth or the undemocratic modification of our Constitution to require two-thirds votes to raise and recover revenue would result in serious long-term damage to the communities of Washington State;
WHEREAS our state’s founders understood that democracy requires majority rules with minority rights, and, after much debate and deliberation, they wrote a Constitution for Washington specifying that bills in the Legislature are passed by a majority vote, defined as greater than fifty percent – no more, and no less;
WHEREAS any higher threshold for the passage of legislation would result in power being concentrated in the hands of a few (rather than the many), such as one-third of one house of the Legislature – as when I-601 and its clones I-960, I-1053, and I-1185 were illegitimately in effect;
WHEREAS allowing tax exemptions to be created by a majority vote, but repealed only with a vote of two-thirds or greater, represents an unfair double standard that would make it nearly impossible to reform our outdated and regressive tax system; and
WHEREAS I-1366 would further violate Article IX of the Washington State Constitution by making it impossible for the state to fulfill its paramount duty of educating Washington’s youth;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Washington State Democrats urge all Washingtonians to refuse to sign Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366 and, if it is placed on the ballot, to oppose the measure;
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we encourage every activist and citizen who supports the values that Washington was founded upon to join the coalition opposing I-1366.