Harmful Supermajority Requirement Headed Back to Ballot
By forcing deep cuts to job-creating investments in health care, education, public safety, and transportation, instead of allowing a balanced approach that would have included some new revenue, the supermajority requirement has stifled Washington’s economic recovery.
The requirement, which has been on the books in various forms since 1993, bars policymakers from raising taxes without a two-thirds vote of the legislature or a vote of the people. Initiative 1185 would lock the requirement into place for at least another two years.
Throughout the course of the Great Recession, a small number of ideologically extreme lawmakers have used this onerous law to block legislation needed to maintain investments essential to a strong state economy.
The impact on Washingtonians has been devastating:
- More than 60,000 Washingtonians have lost health coverage, forcing them to go without care or seek expensive ER services that make the system more costly for all of us.
- Too many aspiring students have been unable to receive financial aid, depriving them of the opportunity for a college education they’ve earned.
- Double-digit tuition increases have made a four-year college education out of reach for thousands of students and unemployed workers looking to retool their skills to find a job.
- Thousands have lost assistance to get and keep a job, when it should be our top priority to get people back to work
- Many seniors must pay more for prescription drugs, increasing financial hardship for many who are already struggling to get by.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
It didn’t have to be this way. Without the onerous supermajority requirement, policymakers could have responded to the recession with a mix of targeted budget cuts and modest tax increases. That approach would have preserved many of the job-creating public health, safety, and education services that were eliminated.
By continuing the supermajority requirement, I-1185 would hurt our economic recovery and further tie the hands of our elected officials.
Earlier this year, a King County Superior Court found that the supermajority requirement violates the State Constitution. The State Supreme Court will review the lower Court's ruling later this year, with oral arguments scheduled to take place on September 25th.
Whatever the Supreme Court rules, now is the time to make investments that create jobs, not keep bad laws that eliminate them.
Stay tuned. In the coming weeks the Budget & Policy Center will release more detailed analyses of the supermajority requirement and the damage it is done to Washington’s economy.