GOP wants anti-tax rule in state constitution

OLYMPIA — Republicans in the state Senate began an effort Thursday to enshrine a voter-approved anti-tax rule in the Washington Constitution.

The proposed constitutional amendment would require lawmakers to have a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. Voters have approved the idea on multiple occasions, but the Legislature is able to suspend initiatives after two years.

“As a citizen, I find it extremely insulting and arrogant that my elected officials continually slap down the will of the people,” said Republican Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver, a sponsor of one of the amendment proposals. The initiative again passed with 64 percent of the vote in November.

Social services lobbyist Nick Federici said he believes a constitutional amendment would tie the hands of the Legislature at a time when lawmakers are looking to add funding to education. He also noted that people can go to the ballot to repeal taxes that lawmakers put in place.

“The people always have the chance to repeal their legislators as well,” Federici. “We think there are already checks and balances in place.”

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, used the committee hearing to point out that the measure passed in many legislative districts, including those of her Democratic counterparts. Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, cautioned that support for the initiative may not reflect support for changing the state’s constitution.

Roach said she’d like to see.

“I would love to test that,” Roach said. “I think we should put it to the vote of the people — and that’s what we’re doing here.”

The amendment faces a daunting road to passage, given that many Democrats oppose the two-thirds rule, including Gov. Jay Inslee.

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