New Poll: Lawmakers should act on supermajority for taxes amendment

Jan 5, 2016

SEATTLE — According to a new statewide poll, a supermajority of voters want lawmakers to act on a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority for tax increases. The poll, commissioned by the Washington Policy Center, ran December 28-30 and was conducted by Elway Research, INC.

Sixty percent of voters said they want it to take a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes. An even larger 65 percent said they want the legislature to send voters a constitutional amendment to implement the tax restriction policy if the state Supreme Court strikes down Initiative 1366.

“The ultimate poll is the one at the ballot box and on six separate occasions the voters have made clear they want it to be harder to raise taxes,” said Dann Mead Smith, President of the Washington Policy Center. “As we head into the legislative session, lawmakers should listen to what 65% of voters are asking for and provide them the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment.”

Approval of Initiative 1366 in November from across the vast majority of the state represents the sixth time since 1993 voters have approved the policy of a supermajority restriction for tax increases. Voters did the same in 1993, 1998, 2007, 2010 and 2012. Voters also approved a revenue limit in 1979 which required a supermajority vote of lawmakers to exceed the limit (Initiative 62).

According to a breakdown by the Secretary of State's Office, voters in 69 percent of Washington’s legislative districts (34 of 49) approved Initiative 1366. This is significant since it takes support from lawmakers in at least 33 legislative districts to refer to voters a constitutional amendment.

“With a supermajority of the state’s legislative districts approving Initiative 1366 there should be enough support in the legislature to act on a constitutional amendment,” said Mead Smith. “That is of course unless some lawmakers continue to ignore the voice of their constituents.”

A legal challenge to Initiative 1366 will be heard in King County Superior Court on January 19th. The 2016 Legislative Session begins on January 11th.

WPC poll questions conducted by Elway Research, INC:

  1. These next questions are about a proposal to require a supermajority of two thirds or three-fifths of the legislature to pass a tax increase. In your opinion, should there be requirement for a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes?

    YES: 60%
    NO: 30%
    UNDECIDED: 10%
  2. Last month, voters again passed an initiative to require a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes. Now there is a lawsuit trying to get the initiative overturned. If the state supreme court rules that the voter-approved initiative is unconstitutional, what should the legislature do:

    Do nothing and let the Supreme Court decision stand:  27%
    Give voters a chance to vote on whether to make the supermajority tax limitation rule part of the state constitution: 65%  
    Don't Know/No Answer: 8%

Poll methodology:

Sample: 500 registered voters in Washington state. Field dates: December 28-30, 2015. Margin of error: +/- 4.5% at 95% confidence interval. Region: King County 30%; Other Western WA 50%; Eastern WA 20%. Gender: Female 53%; Male 47%. Party affiliation: Democrat 34%; Republican 22%; Independent 44%.


Additional Information:

69% of state's legislative districts approved I-1366

Lawmakers aren’t listening to the voters on tax increase

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