Supreme Court voids I-1366; 65% of voters want legislature to act

May 26, 2016

It's official, the state Supreme Court has ruled I-1366 unconstitutional. A unanimous Supreme Court ruled this morning

"We affirm the trial court and hold that I -1366 violates the single-subject rule of article II, section 19, and that it is void in its entirety . . . We hold that the opponents to 1-1366 have taxpayer standing and this case is justiciable. We also hold that 1-1366 contains two operative, unrelated provisions and does not constitute valid contingent legislation. Thus, we hold that 1-1366 violates the single-subject rule and that it is void in its entirety. Because it is unnecessary to reach opponents' additional arguments, we decline to do so. We affirm the judgment of the trial court."

Anticipating an adverse ruling from the state's courts against I-1366 Washington Policy Center commissioned a statewide poll last December conducted by Elway Research, INC asking voters what they want the legislature to do if the court tosses I-1366. 65% said they want lawmakers to send voters a constitutional amendment if this occurs

This is not a surprise considering that going all the way back to 1979 with Initiative 62, voters have consistently called for a higher threshold to raise taxes. 

There are at least 17 states across the country with some type of supermajority requirement for taxes increases. Four of those (Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi & Oregon) require a 3/5 vote while two (Colorado for all tax increases & Missouri for tax increases above a revenue cap) require voter approval. The other states range from 2/3 to 3/4 requirements. Several of Washington's public employee unions also require a supermajority vote before special assessments can be imposed on union members. 

Washington's constitution already contains nearly two-dozen supermajority requirements. Among the 20 plus supermajority requirements are a 3/5 vote for spending money from the Budget Stabilization Account and 3/5 vote for issuing bonds. The one component currently missing from the state constitution’s fiscal supermajority requirements is additional protection for state taxpayers on tax increases. Ultimately, the legislature should allow the voters to harmonize the existing budget supermajority vote requirements with a tax restriction to complement the current higher threshold required for local tax-levy increases, incurring debt and spending one-time savings.

The courts have made clear a constitutional amendment is required and the voters have consistently demanded a supermajority requirement or voter approval for tax increases. Lawmakers should finally allow voters to end this debate once and for all as proposed by several constitutional amendments earlier this year. 

Additional Information
Senate considers 3/5 for taxes amendment
New Poll: Lawmakers should act on supermajority for taxes amendment

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