I suppose Gov. Chris Gregoire thought she was dodging a political bullet by calling a special session to reinstate I-747’s 1-percent revenue cap on regular levies, but…
In the meantime, Republicans, Eyman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi criticized Gregoire for her response to the high court’s ruling.
“The incumbent is not leading — she is reacting and slowly,” Rossi said.
Well, how the fuck did she think they would respond? Did she really think she’d earn brownie points with the anti-tax crowd? Does she really believe Republicans will vote for anybody but a Republican, regardless of how much she panders to them? Does she really take the Democratic base this much for granted?
The sad thing is, this is one of the few times Rossi is actually right… well, sorta. Gregoire is reacting rather than leading on this issue, but if anything she’s moving too fast. Calling a special session to reimpose I-747 is not only bad policy, it is bad politics, and it will cost Democrats in both the short and long term. As much as I hate to write it, Gregoire’s response to the recent court ruling is as ill-conceived and irresponsible as the initiative itself.
Now I suppose it is possible that this is not just a monumental political miscalculation, but rather, that Gov. Gregoire really does believe that calling a special session to reinstate I-747 is the right and prudent thing to do. But if so, I would hope she could explain how capping local tax revenue growth below the rate of inflation is in any way an act of responsible governance? If the initiative had imposed a similar cap on state revenues, forcing state budgets to steadily shrink year to year in real dollars, even as energy and health care costs soar, would Gov. Gregoire fight so hard to reinstate it? I kinda doubt it.
Yet that’s exactly the fate to which she is condemning local governments, the end result being an endless parade of lid lifts and special levies on the ballot that will ultimately lead to voter fatigue, if it hasn’t already done so. If you want to undermine the ability of government to govern — if you want to set up the Democratic majority for failure — this is exactly the way to do it.
I just can’t tell you how disappointed I am with both the governor and the Democratic leadership. (I could try, but it would involve an awful lot of swearing, even for HA.) This was an opportunity to impose a reasonable cap — say, four-percent or inflation, whichever is lower — while enacting progressive property tax reform. Instead they’ve chosen to cave to Eyman and Rossi, while offering a half-measure in the form of tax deferrals. I suppose I’ll have to wait until I see the details to comment more fully, but a deferral is generally little more than that, and would do absolutely nothing to address our most regressive tax structure in the nation.
I guess Gregoire and her people are trying to play it safe in an election year, but playing it safe is how she almost lost in 2004. And it’s a terrible way to kick off 2008.