A couple of months ago some
prescient political analyst filthy liberal blogger suggested a way to provoke a constitutional test of the I-1053 two-thirds majority:
Here’s how it works. Declare that the projected revenue shortfall, following a biennium where spending has already been cut to the bone, makes it impossible for the legislature to pass a budget that lives up to the spirit of Article IX, Section 1 of the State Constitution:
It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.
The constitutional requirement of “ample provision for education…” simply isn’t happening.
Article IX, Section 3 gives lawmakers broad authority to do what is needed to fund education. If we cannot provide “ample” funding for education via existing taxes, lawmakers should provide short-term revenue for education through the repeal of tax preferences, using a simple majority to pass the legislation.
The mandate and the authority to accomplish it as spelled out in the Constitution trumps a law enacted through the initiative process. If Republicans believe the law trumps…they can sue.
And look at what just happened (via Publicola):
Late last night, the state house Democrats forced a floor vote on Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D-27, Tacoma) bill to repeal an $83 million bank loophole and shift the money to K-3 class size reductions. While the Democrats needed a two-thirds majority and only got 52 votes (it was 52-42 in a straight party line vote), the losing vote wasn’t just a symbolic effort to embarrass Republicans for voting against kids and for banks.
PubliCola has confirmed that the Democrats took the vote to set up a formal court challenge to I-1053, the rule that requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes.
As Publicola explains, the Democrats followed some procedures required by the state Supreme court in their dismissal of I-960. In other words, the Dems removed one important way for the Supreme court to weasel out of making a decision on the constitutionality of such initiatives.
I-1053 may well get its day in court. Who knew the House Dems had it in ’em?