Thankfully for the sanity of Americans across the country, Washington isn't a battle ground state for the Presidency that could determine the outcome of the Electoral College. One can only imagine the conspiracy theories and wall to wall coverage of TV talking heads exploding as vote results from Washington trickled in little by little, first days and then weeks after Election Day as the country anxiously waits to learn who the next President would be.
Governor Gregoire this morning opened a 2-day state conference on LEAN and the impact this tool is having in Washington. The Governor spoke to an overflow crowd of state employees (I was among those standing in the back) imploring them to help Washington cement LEAN in state practice.
It is very likely that the subject of tax increases will come up at tonight's gubernatorial debate. Both candidates have strongly stated they do not support tax increases though they've come down on opposite sides of the state's 20 year old law requiring a supermajority vote for tax increases.
If Initiative 1185 is adopted, would you vote to allow the people of Washington to have the opportunity to vote on a state constitution amendment to require a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes?
Perhaps by virtue of its inclusion in the 2012 Voters' Guide the following claim is making the rounds to argue against Initiative 1185:
"Measures like 1185 may sound like a way to protect taxpayers, but Colorado passed a similar measure with disastrous results. It cut off funding for schools, roads, and immunizations for kids, and caused so many problems that Colorado’s Republican Governor proposed a measure to suspend it, which voters passed."
The endorsements for Initiative 1185 continue to roll in with the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce adding its voice in support. According to Lincoln Vander Veen, Public Affairs Manager for the Chamber, “The Bellevue Chamber voted last week to support I-1185 and has supported the two-thirds majority requirement since I-601 in 1993.”
I had the opportunity to address the Chamber's policy committee on why it should support I-1185.
Is Washington’s state constitution undemocratic? Some opponents of supermajority vote requirements seem to think so. Voters have enacted or re-affirmed the two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases four times: 1993, 1998, 2007 and 2010. They are being asked do so for the fifth time this year with Initiative 1185.
Concerned about the growing share of the state operating budget going to pay debt service and therefore not available for other programs, lawmakers in 2011 created a Commission on State Debt by passing Senate Bill 5181. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 40-1 and the House by a vote of 79-14. As noted by the bill report and text of SB 5181:
This November voters will consider Senate Joint Resolution 8221 to reduce Washington’s constitutional debt limit over a twenty year period (2014-2034) from nine to eight percent while changing the calculation of revenue for purposes of determining the state debt limit.
In November the people of Washington will vote on Initiative 1185. The measure would reaffirm the nearly 20-year-old state law requiring that tax increases pass with a two-thirds vote in the legislature or receive voter approval. Washington Policy Center has long recommended a two-thirds vote requirement protection for taxpayers and believes such a policy would serve the public interest by limiting the financial burden state government places on the people.
Jason Mercier is Director of the Center for Government Reform at Washington Policy Center. He is a contributing editor of the Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News, serves on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, and was an advisor to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee. In June 2010, former Governor Gregoire appointed Jason as WPC’s representative on her Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Panel. Jason holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Washington State University.