I-1366 Lawsuit Headed to Washington State Supreme Court

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I-1366 Lawsuit Headed to Washington State Supreme Court

By - August 14, 2015

Tim Eyman’s I-1366 is an attempt to blackmail Washington state into undercutting democracy. And a King County Superior Court judge has determined that I-1366 likely violates the state constitution, but stopped short of removing it from the November ballot. 

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against I-1366 seek to block the initiative from the ballot on the grounds that it would deny Washingtonians their right to a deliberative and well-thought-out process for amending the state constitution. They will appeal the decision to the Washington State Supreme Court, and they are confident the measure will ultimately be struck down.

I-1366 is Eyman’s latest attempt to revive a damaging law that gives a small minority of lawmakers veto power over all state revenue decisions. Amending the state constitution cannot be done through the initiative process, yet Eyman’s “2/3-For-Taxes Constitutional Amendment Initiative” seeks to do just that.

King County Superior Justice Dean S. Lum indicated that there’s a good chance that I-1366 would eventually be overturned by the State Supreme Court.  His opinion states that “although the ultimate decision is obviously the Supreme Court’s, there is a substantial possibility that I-1366 will be found to be invalid for exceeding the scope of the initiative process, and that voters will be voting on a measure which will never go into effect.”

Simply put, I-1366 would force the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds “supermajority” vote of the Legislature on revenue measures or the state would lose $1.4 billion a year in tax revenues that support schools, public safety, and other investments that help build a strong state economy.

In his argument during the hearing, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney Paul Lawrence explained that I-1366 is a perversion of the constitutional amendment process that would put a $1.4 billion gun to the head of the Legislature. Said Lawrence: “It is simply unconstitutional.”

The I-1366 ruling in King County Superior Court comes one day after the Washington State Supreme Court levied fines against the state for failing to adequately fund schools. I-1366 would make it impossible for lawmakers to produce the billions of dollars in additional school funding that the Court has said in no uncertain terms they must produce. Our kids and their teachers shouldn’t have to pay the price for the anti-democracy whims of Tim Eyman and his wealthy corporate backers.

About Andy Nicholas, Senior Fellow

Andy specializes in state budget and tax policy. Since joining the Budget & Policy Center in 2009, he has served on a Legislative Task Force on Tax Preference Reform and has conducted numerous analyses of Washington state’s tax code.

Read more about Andy