Open Government

WPC's Center for Government Reform's mission is to partner with stakeholders and citizens to work toward a government focused on its core functions while improving its transparency, accountability, performance, and effectiveness for taxpayers.

What's New

Senate votes to retain tax advisory votes

February 9, 2010 in Blog

The Senate has voted to "temporarily" suspend the 2/3 vote requirements for tax increases enacted multiple times by voters. The vote was 26 to 23.

Instead of approving the bill as referred by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the full Senate adopted an amendment that limited its changes to only the 2/3 vote restriction. This means the current requirement for non-binding advisory votes for tax increases not sent first to the voters for approval would remain in effect.

Based on the number of tax increase proposals being considered by the Legislature, it could be a long ballot for voters in November.

Next up for the proposal is debate in the House.

Ghost bill on taxes introduced

February 9, 2010 in Blog

A strange thing happened in Olympia today.  This morning a bill was introduced in the Senate, SB 6853, which has no text.  The full bill is reproduced below.  The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in the Ways and Means Committee this afternoon.  Committee members may decide to pass it today and send it to the full Senate, going against the rule that legislation be made public for at least five days before being acted on.

This bill may make major changes in the tax code, and could result in a significant increase in the tax burden state lawmakers place on citizens, so it would be nice to know what the bill actually says.  As independent policy analysts, it is hard for Washington Policy Center, or anyone else, to make a fair assessment of a major bill when the public has no idea what it says, or how it may affect our lives.
SB6853

Senate moves step closer to tax increases

February 9, 2010 in Blog

Washingtonians are a step closer to seeing their taxes increased as a result of a vote yesterday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The Committee adopted the proposed suspension of the state's 2/3 requirement for tax increases.

Voting in favor of the suspension were Senators Prentice, Fraser, Tom, Fairley, Keiser, Kline, Kohl-Welles, McDermott, Murray, Oemig, Pridemore, Regala and Rockefeller.

Opposed were Senators Zarelli, Brandland, Carrell, Honeyford, Parlette and Schoesler.

If the full Senate follows suit, this will be the third time voter approved tax restrictions have been "temporarily" set aside by lawmakers. Previous suspensions occurred in 2002 and 2005.

Though billed as a "temporary" suspension, the full effect of the proposal will result in the 2/3 vote restriction likely never being triggered. This means the Legislature will not have to vote to suspend the law again while not being restricted by the original intent of voters.

Consider Section 2 (D) (ii) of the bill: "Any action or combination of actions by the legislature that
raises taxes may be taken with the approval of a majority of members
elected to each house of the legislature if the revenue is for the
purpose of funding a voter-approved initiative."

Rather than continue the current cycle of voters being forced to reenact the 2/3 vote restriction only to have it disregarded by lawmakers, the Legislature should put to rest this debate once and for all by referring the question to voters as a constitutional amendment.

Regardless of the outcome, the intent of voters will no longer be in question and the 2/3 vote protections will not be subject of legal debate or legislative shenanigans.

As noted by Crosscut this morning, of those states with a supermajority requirement for tax increases, Washington is the only one without constitutional protections

Update on suspension of I-960

February 9, 2010 in In the News
KIRO 97.3
Source: 
KIRO 97.3
Date: 
Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How Government Officials Increase Home Prices

February 8, 2010 in In the News
National Center for Policy Analysis
Source: 
National Center for Policy Analysis
Date: 
Monday, February 8, 2010

OUR VIEW | Let the Sunshine Stay In

February 7, 2010 in In the News
Kitsap Sun (Bremerton)
Source: 
Kitsap Sun (Bremerton)
Date: 
Sunday, February 7, 2010

School administrators’ pay among highest in county

February 6, 2010 in In the News
Spokesman Review (Spokane)
Source: 
Spokesman Review (Spokane)
Date: 
Saturday, February 6, 2010