I-1053’s Supermajority Requirement is Excessive and Unreasonable
Initiative 1053, one of the five ballot measures examined in the latest policy brief from the Budget & Policy Center, would undermine legislative flexibility and rational decision-making at time when these attributes are most needed. Among other things, the measure would reinstate a requirement that all tax increases – no matter how small – be subject to a public referendum vote or a supermajority (two-thirds) vote in the legislature.
The supermajority requirement distorts rational decision-making by elected officials. Even in normal economic times, the requirement gives a small minority of lawmakers the ability to obstruct important legislation. The supermajority mandate is especially problematic during recessions, when a handful of legislators can block measures needed to preserve basic public services and prevent further economic damage.
This year, lawmakers temporarily suspended the expanded supermajority requirement that was established under I-960 – an action that allowed them to enact a modest package of revenue enhancements needed to protect fundamental public services like health care and education.
If enacted, I-1053 would prematurely reinstate the supermajority requirement, making it virtually impossible for legislators to adopt a rational and balanced approach to Washington’s ongoing economic problems in the coming year.