Sen. Janea Holmquist, R-Moses Lake, said that Republicans are leery of making it easier to raise property taxes. She noted that the supermajority requirement stems from a 1932 citizen initiative.
And, um… of course, we should honor the will of these voters, despite the fact that nearly all of them are now dead.
I see this argument trotted out a lot — that because a measure was approved by voters by whatever margin however many years ago, its provisions are now somehow inviolate. But of course, this is just an argument of convenience to be used whenever it suits ones needs. For example, the 1932 property tax initiative that Holmquist venerates also capped levy rates at 40-mill, rather than the much lower 10-mill cap now in place. And it was just one part of a larger tax reform package that included a measure creating both a personal and corporate income tax… a citizens initiative that passed with 70-percent of the vote, but was thrown out a year later in a controversial 5-4 Supreme Court decision.
So I don’t suppose there’s something so special about that 1932 election that Sen. Holmquist would be willing to support an income tax and a 40-mill levy cap? Or that there’s something so insufficient about modern voters that they shouldn’t be given the opportunity to amend a provision passed by their counterparts 75-years ago?
Initiatives enact laws like any other law, and once the two-year moratorium is up, they can and should be amended to fix poorly thought out provisions or address changing times. It is true that initiatives are voted on directly by citizens, but then, so are our representatives.