With the passage of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 last year requiring 2/3 votes of the Legislature to raise revenue, Wall Street interests and their friends were the big winners. Citizens in Washington State were the losers.
The reality is that with the citizen’s help, corporations guaranteed that their special interest loopholes and tax exemptions in Washington State would be continued on and on, without any accountability. Tax exemptions originally passed with only a majority vote now require a 2/3 vote by both houses of the Legislature to rescind or end. And this is almost impossible to do.
Wall Street and Big Business interests funding the campaign to protect their special interest tax exemptions included JP MORGAN CHASE, BP CORPORATION, BANK OF AMERICA, WELLS FARGO, CONOCO PHILLIPS, US BANK, TESORO COMPANIES INC, AND CHEVERON to name a few.
Why do you think they wanted voters to approve I-1053? It’s an easy answer.
Corporations basically were able to grandfather in their tax exemptions by passage of Initiative 1053. They were able to do this under the camouflage of limiting taxes on average citizens. The net result is that corporations protected themselves from not just losing their special interest exemptions but it also made it impossible for the Legislature to consider any other revenue coming from these corporations regardless of how much profit they make.
Tax exemptions are expenditures of state money that would otherwise be available to fund basic services like education, health care, transportation or environmental protection. Tax exemptions need to be included in the state budget just the same as other state expenditures. And they need to have a sunset provision so that unless they are voted on to be renewed, they will automatically expire. Sunset provisions could vary from 4 to 8 years.
Tax exemptions should not be a permanent entitlement of special interests and corporations. Their continuation needed to be evaluated and voted on periodically. Their value to the state’s economy should be prioritized under the guidelines of a priorities of government evaluation.. Their continuation should be ranked as high, medium or low priority, the same as other expenditures in the state budget. When it comes time to create a state budget they should be considered the same as any other expenditure, not exempt as they now are.
This evaluation of tax expenditures is a function that the State Auditor could perform the same as is done with other programs. Tax exemptions that no longer perform a valid function for the State and its citizens should be eliminated.
It’s time now for citizens to take back their Legislature from the corporations. Giving corporations special rules to prevent their tax exemptions from being repealed by requiring higher voting requirements is contrary to the Washington State Constitution and subverts the citizen’s legislature.. Now is the time to repeal the special treatment the Wall Street interests – the Banks and other Big Corporations – gave themselves under I-1053 and return the Legislature to the people..
We need to go back to the voting system set up by the people for the Legislature by the Washington State Constitution. Passing legislation, including revenue and the state budget should be by a simple majority vote as set in the State Constitution. Requiring a higher number of votes on specific legislation winds up giving a smaller and smaller block of Legislators veto power. That gives Wall Street and Big Businesses and Big Oil power they don’t deserve and diminishes the power of the people to control their government.
It’s time to end Wall Street’s Special Protection.and return the Legislature to the citizens of this state. It’s time to repeal I-1053 and stop the unfair shift of taxation from the wealthy and special interests to the middle class.