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This morning, the state Supreme Court unanimously struck down Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to restrict the legislature’s ability to eliminate wasteful tax breaks and enact new revenue for public priorities like education, infrastructure, and health care. Initiative 1366, another in a series of Eyman’s unconstitutional supermajority proposals, would have allowed a handful of lawmakers to stand in the way of attempts to raise revenue for these and other state investments. Supermajority laws require a two-thirds vote of the legislature to enact any tax increase, essentially granting veto power to just 17 senators out of 147 state legislators.
As we’ve described in the past, I-1366 would have been disastrous for Washington. It would have essentially blackmailed the legislature into restricting its own ability to enact new state revenue, or else lose $1.4 billion a year from the state budget for important services like higher education, safe communities, and health care. This, in the face of an historic mandate from the state Supreme Court to fully fund basic education for our kids and grandkids, which will require billions of additional dollars for schools each year.
In order to fund state priorities that build strong communities, like parks and libraries, safe roads, and schools that we can depend upon to educate the next generation of Washington’s leaders, the legislature must be able to do its job. That includes raising revenue equitably and sustainability – and by decision of the entire legislative body, not just a handful of influential lawmakers.
As the Court stated in its opinion: “[If I-1366 were allowed to stand, t]he new norm would be for the initiative sponsors to pair one drastic or undesirable measure with an ultimatum that it go into effect unless a specific constitutional amendment is proposed to the people.”