Were voters just joking on supermajority for tax increases?

Jun 22, 2016

According to a recent poll by Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) the voters have just been pulling our leg when it comes to wanting a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes. In fact, as NPI sees it, the voters were just kidding when 65% told Elway Research, INC last December that they want lawmakers to send them a constitutional amendment on the topic. Based on NPI's analysis, voters apparently were just channeling Mel Brooks when they acted at the ballot box to approve the policy of a supermajority restriction for tax increases in 1993, 1998, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2015. 

Perhaps the biggest punch line from voters was the "uncertain" message they delivered in the high presidential turnout year of 2012 when more of them voted for I-1185 than supported President Obama, giving the proposal 64% support statewide, passage in every county, and approval in 90% of the state's legislative districts (44 of 49). 

To further prove voters don't really want a supermajority vote restriction for tax increases in the legislature NPI points to the results of the 2007 election. Although voters that year did approve I-960, 51% also supported a constitutional amendment to require a simple majority vote of the people for school levies. Of course that same year 68% also approved a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority vote of lawmakers to access the protected budget stabilization account

To NPI these three results represent a mixed message from voters. To me, however, it seems clear the voters want supermajority restrictions on the legislature but are ok with a simple majority vote for tax increases when they get to make the decision directly. In fact, this is basically what happens in Colorado where all tax increases at the state and local level require voter approval. 

So what should be the takeaway for elected officials from the recent NPI poll? Have all the other elections just been the voters pulling a fast one and not reflect a clear and consistent mandate from the people? 

Realizing that the ultimate poll is the one at the ballot box, I'll see NPI's poll and raise them an election. Let's have a winner takes all match with one last vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to see if they really want a supermajority protection for tax increases in the legislature or if they've just been kidding all these years. 

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