Initiative 1185 will provide Washingtonians this November the opportunity to vote for the fifth time in support of the requirement for tax increases to receive a supermajority vote in the Legislature. Including Washington, 18 states currently have some form of restriction on legislative tax increases.
I recently contacted the budget office for every state to find out if there were any restrictions on tax increases. The following information was self-reported by the states (constitutional unless noted otherwise):
- Alabama – State income and property taxes cannot be increased without constitutional amendment
- Arizona – 2/3 legislative vote
- Arkansas – 3/4 legislative vote
- California – 2/3 legislative vote (includes fee increases)
- Colorado – Voter approval required for all tax increases
- Delaware – 3/5 legislative vote
- Florida – 2/3 legislative vote
- Kentucky – 3/5 legislative vote
- Louisiana – 2/3 legislative vote
- Michigan – 3/4 legislative vote for property taxes
- Mississippi – 3/5 legislative vote
- Missouri – Voter approval required above revenue cap
- Nevada – 2/3 legislative vote (includes fee increases)
- Oklahoma – 3/4 legislative vote
- Oregon – 3/5 legislative vote
- South Dakota – 2/3 legislative vote
- Wisconsin – 2/3 legislative vote (statutory)
During the past 20 years Washington voters have enacted the supermajority for tax increases requirement four times as ordinary state law, but not as part of the state constitution:
- 2010: Initiative 1053 - Required supermajority vote or voter approval for tax increases (64% yes)
- 2007 Initiative 960 - Required supermajority vote or voter approval for tax increases (51% yes)
- 1998: Referendum 49 - Affirmed provisions of 1993 Initiative 601 (57% yes)
- 1993: Initiative 601 - Required supermajority vote for tax increases (51% yes)
To help gauge potential legislative support for allowing the voters to end this debate once and for all with a constitutional amendment, after today's primary results are available we will be sending candidates for the Legislature (and those Senators not up for election) the following survey question:
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?
We will publish the survey results in early September.
The Washington Constitution currently includes many supermajority vote requirements including for the issuance of public debt.
Editorial coverage of 2/3 for taxes ruling
Amendment would end seesaw over raising taxes, Spokesman Review
State Supreme Court should support I-1053, the two-thirds tax rule, Seattle Times
Judge rules I-1053 unconstitutional, but state will appeal to high court, Vancouver Columbian