We keep hearing from pundits and politicians that, what with the passage of I-1053 and I-1107, and the failure of I-1098, new revenue sources are off the table as legislators seek to close a $5.7 billion gap in the next biennial budget, and a $1.1 billion additional shortfall just between now and June, but of course, that’s a load of bullshit. It is possible for legislators to raise new revenue this session, and it would be both cowardly and irresponsible of them not to consider this option.
Yeah, I know, I-1053 requires a two-thirds supermajority in both houses to raise any tax or eliminate any of our billions of dollars in tax preferences exemptions breaks loopholes. But a two-thirds majority would be a slam dunk with Republican support, a not unreasonable if unlikely scenario, in order to, say, raise the money to restore school levy equalization funds.
Alternatively, if both houses were to pass a revenue measure by a simple majority, and Gov. Gregoire were to have the balls to sign it into law, we could finally have that legal showdown over the highly questionable constitutionality of the two-thirds supermajority requirement… a showdown most of the constitutional attorneys I’ve talked to think Tim Eyman’s and his measure would likely lose.
Finally, legislators could always put a revenue package on the ballot, and ask voters to voice yay or nay on, say, a two-cent per can tax on soda pop in order to raise the money to restore school levy equalization funds. I-1107 failed in King County; give much of the rest of the state a good reason to support such a tax, and perhaps the beverage industry won’t be quite so successful snowing voters next time around. (And it sure would be fun to force Coke and Pepsi to spend yet another $16 million. In fact, we could make an annual game of it, padding the earnings of local radio a TV stations in the process.)
New revenue is an option. It simply is. Not an easy option, but an option nonetheless. So don’t you let a cowardly pundit or politician tell you otherwise.