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 Sunday, April 18

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

Ian Terry / The Herald

Westbound cars merge from Highway 204 and 20th Street Southeast onto the trestle during the morning commute on Thursday, March 30 in Lake Stevens.

Photo taken on 03302017
Editorial: Lawmakers must keep at transportation’s grand deal

The complex mix of bills can accomplish too much to surrender to opposition to taxes and costs.

In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, listen, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides over motions in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.  (Court TV, via AP, Pool)
Viewpoints: Chauvin trial centers around three questions

Jurors will consider the differences between force and violence and being subject to the law or above it.

Comment: State’s drug abuse reforms should include prevention

Lives and money can be saved if efforts build on existing work to prevent drug abuse and addiction.

Comment: Lawmakers can start restoring equity to state taxes

Lower-income families pay a greater share of taxes than wealthier families. That needs to change.

Thanks to those who found truth of 1987 arson at EvCC

Thanks to The Daily Herald for the March 26 article, “Arsoninst behind… Continue reading

We should add clean energy and keep Snake River dams

Regarding the plan to remove the four Snake River hydroelectric dams as… Continue reading

This Aug. 23, 2020 photo shows a long line of unsold 2020 models charge outside a Tesla dealership in Littleton, Colo.  The European Union is lacking sufficient charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, according to the bloc's external auditor. In a report published Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the European Court of Auditors said users are gaining more harmonized access to charging networks but the EU is still “a long way from reaching its Green Deal target of 1 million charging points by 2025." (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Editorial: Bills’ merger makes clean-driving future possible

Combining two bills will aid the sales of electric vehicles and ensure ample charging stations.

FILE - In this undated photo, provided by NY Governor's Press Office on Saturday March 27, 2021, is the new "Excelsior Pass" app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Vaccine passports being developed to verify COVID-19 immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine have become the latest flash point in America’s perpetual political wars, with Republicans portraying them as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices. (NY Governor's Press Office via AP, File)
Editorial: Vaccine passports can nudge more toward immunity

Used to persuade rather than exclude, the passports could increase access to businesses and venues.

Most Read