Vote no on Eyman’s I-1185

For years, Northwest voters and The Herald have embraced a supermajority requirement on state lawmakers hoping to fiddle with revenue. Here, we believed, was a cudgel for innovation and to scrub every budget to its marrow. If you want to fine-tooth taxes — including revisiting exemptions for big businesses that bleed billions from taxpayers — you better corral two-thirds of the chamber or it’s a non-starter.

Just two years ago, the Herald Editorial Board weighed in affirmatively on another supermajority measure, Tim Eyman’s I-1053. “Failing to approve 1-1053 would take away much of the pressure to enact true reforms, telling lawmakers that higher taxes are not only OK, but a desirable part of the budget solution.”

We were wrong. Rather than pressure reforms, Eyman’s supermajority rule has spurred paralysis. Rather than bolster creative solutions to benefit the average taxpayer, the two-thirds’ mandate is now one of the apron strings special interests hide behind to avoid ponying up.

The latest incarnation of Eyman’s supermajority effort, I-1185, is bankrolled by the likes of BP (the company that brought us the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) and ConocoPhillips. Each has contributed $100,000, with an additional $400,000 from the Beer Institute. Why so much loot from Big Oil and non-Washington booze interests? With 1185, it takes a simple majority vote in the Legislature to create a tax loophole, but a two-thirds’ supermajority to undo it. Not a bad scheme if you’re a deep-pocketed special interest. It’s a much higher hurdle, however, for Washington families that support tax fairness.

The state Supreme Court is currently adjudicating the constitutionality of the supermajority requirement, and there are compelling reasons to believe it will get struck down. Seattle attorney David Perez has discovered present-at-the-creation evidence that the framers of the state’s Constitution intended the key phrase “unless a majority” to mean a simple majority, no more or no less. If Washingtonians want to impose a have-it-stick supermajority requirement, we’ll need a constitutional amendment.

And what then? As with other states, Washington will get slammed with growing shortfalls and a slow defunding of education. After the McCleary ruling on K-12 funding (Read: Washington needs $1 billion more for education) it’s difficult to imagine lawmakers getting to yes with a supermajority requirement still in place.

The two-thirds’ rule sounded like an effective stick to batter lawmakers into not raising taxes. Instead, it became a case study in unintended consequences, of corporations preserving their loopholes while lawmakers gave state universities the OK to hike tuition. Washington can do better.

The Herald Editorial Board recommends a no vote on Eyman’s latest, I-1185.

Talk to us

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, May 18

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

The COVID-19 ward at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett in May 2020. (Andy Bronson / Herald file) 20200519
Editorial: Even after 1 million deaths, covid fight isn’t over

Most of us have put away masks, but case counts are rising again and vigilance is still paramount.

Members of PRISM close out a dance off Friday afternoon at the Stanwood-Camano YMCA in Stanwood, Washington on March 3, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Editorial: Marysville board must keep focus on students’ needs

Discussion of LGBTQ clubs must tune out the culture war noise and focus on students and families.

A tiny homes program that opened in early July began with each unit claimed and a wait list of 60. Here Patrick Diller, head of community partnerships for Pallet, discusses the Pallet Shelter Pilot Project on June 29, 2021 in Everett. (Katie Hayes / Herald file)
Editorial: Edmonds ‘camping’ ban won’t solve homelessness

The city first must be able to offer shelter opportunities before forcing people off the streets.

How many more guns will assure safety of all?

My letter is actually a question, or questions, for my fellow citizens.… Continue reading

Final authority over LGBTQ clubs rests with parents

Regarding a recent article about LGBTQ clubs in the Marysville School District… Continue reading

Schools play important role in kids’ development

School is a place where young people can begin discovering who they… Continue reading

Comment: Sending abortion to states won’t bring compromise

It may be the right thing to do, but the issue will only further divide Americans, 50 times over.

Comment: Expect more pandemics as climate crisis worsens

Loss of habitat is forcing more wildlife and human interactions, and opportunity for disease transmission.

Most Read