Oh look, here’s a press release from Representative Katrina Asay. Enjoy.
Last fall, voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 1053 (I-1053), which requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve tax increases. Voters in the 30th Legislative District approved I-1053 by more than 66 percent.
Yes. I think it was a mistake. Did voters realize what would be cut if the legislature passed a no new taxes budget? Did they make a guess about the revenue forecasts that have come in since then? Would they vote for the kinds of cuts that Republicans (and too many Democrats) want if those cuts were on the ballot? I’m not a fan of the initiative process, but I think we do need to respect the will of the people. However, I don’t think we can divine the will of the people about this budget by any Tim Eyman initiative. And I certainly don’t think we can figure out the will of the people with regard to local tax revenues.
Voters have approved the tax constraints found in I-1053 several times, most recently with Initiative 960, which was thrown out by the majority party last year. This allowed the majority party to increase taxes with a simple majority vote, or 50 plus one. In no mood to be taxed even more in this battered economy, voters in November quickly repealed a host of tax increases put in place by the majority party in the 2010 legislative session.
I know what Rep. Asay means, but that first sentence seems to imply that I-960 happened after 1053. Also, the will of the people is Democratic control of both houses of the legislature. Has been for a decade. Yet, oddly I don’t see Republican press releases demanding whatever Democrats want in the legislature.
That’s why I was so disappointed when majority Democrats in the House passed an amended version of Senate Bill 5457, the so-called “congestion relief bill.” Despite the catchy title, I voted against this bill because, as it was changed in the House, it does an end-around the voter-approved two-thirds vote requirement to increase taxes.
1053 didn’t say anything about counties or municipalities. We’re now divining the will of the voters based on things they didn’t vote for or against. That simply wasn’t on the ballot. In fact, King County was pretty close to evenly split. I’d bet Seattle and some suburban cities opposed it. Does that mean that their city councils should have majority rule like the framers of the state constitution envisioned?
Senate Bill 5457, as amended, would authorize a simple majority of King County Council members to impose up to an additional $20 in annual car-tab tax to help maintain Metro transit service. From all reports, the King County executive, once the bill is signed into law, will ask for the full amount of the tax. This would raise an estimated $25.5 million for each of the two years the tax will be in place.
Awesome. As a King County resident and a car owner, I’ll gladly pay my share. If enough people don’t like it they can either try to block it at the ballot like many of the state taxes last year, or if they don’t like it but not enough to do that, they can vote out the people who agree to the taxes. Democracy. Awesome.
What makes Senate Bill 5457 so offensive to me is that while the voters approved I-1053 to ensure any tax increase would be required to receive a two-thirds supermajority vote to be approved, the measure violates the will of the people by allowing a simple majority on the King County Council to approve the additional tax.
Again, NOBODY VOTED ON IF KING COUNTY SHOULD HAVE A 2/3 MAJORITY TO PASS ANYTHING. It wasn’t on the ballot. You can’t call the will of the people on an at best tangentially related question. This is crazy.
I see this as a way for the majority party to raise the ante when it comes to how many shenanigans voters will put up with when it comes to how new and increased taxes are approved. I feel as though they are basically telling citizens that while voters clearly and unequivocally directed the Legislature to have a supermajority consensus to increase taxes; they can snub that directive with a simple majority vote of legislators. Now, we are faced with a bill that could allow local governments to skirt the newly-approved mandate from last fall.
Local governments aren’t skirting anything. The mandates were to the legislature. And they were dumb. But even if they were the most sensible policy ever, they have nothing to do with King County.
If there is a good case to be made for higher taxes, let those who are asking for them convince others to support the idea. It’s that simple.
You mean like a majority of the King County Council, the King County Executive, enough voters not to sign a county wide referendum or initiative on that, or if there is a referendum to vote on it? You mean convince those people? Because there are already plenty of checks and balances in the system.
Additionally, and not to be lost in this debate, is that voters approved Initiative 695 specifically to ensure car tabs would cost no more than $30. Whether you like the idea or not, it’s what the people of this state approved. However, each year the Legislature has offered local governments the opportunity to add $20 here and there, weight fees and now this. Senate Bill 5457 is another example of why voters again decided to put such strict standards in place to raise taxes.
695 was ruled unconstitutional. So basically, we have to uphold the will of the people to support one unconstitutional thing, possibly another unconstitutional thing (the previous 2/3 rules have all been on standing, not on the merits). Also, 695 failed in King County. So by this logic, the will of the people is that they have higher car tabs. Why do you hate the imagined will of the people based on something that they didn’t really vote on, Katrina Asay?
This bill is a bad deal for taxpayers and breaks faith with voters. Because the House amended a Senate bill, it must now go back for the Senate to approve or reject the change. For all of our sakes, I can only hope the bill is set aside. It’s the right thing to do to maintain the integrity and spirit of I-1053.
It gives the voters plenty of say. As does every question before a legislative body in Washington. And it helps Metro get through tough fucking times.