Tim Eyman’s latest campaign could place legislators in a tough position if passed later this year.
Eyman got 337,000 registered voters to sign a petition to add Initiative 1366 to the upcoming November ballot. If passed, legislators will be forced to choose between cementing a new voting policy in the state’s constitution or cutting state tax revenue by $1 billion.
Initiative 1366 would essentially pose an ultimatum to legislators. Either drop the sales tax from 6.5 to 5.5 percent, or craft a constitutional amendment that would require a 2/3 vote in the state House and Senate to raise taxes in the future.
“What the initiative is all about is finally giving the people of the state of Washington the opportunity to be able to vote on a 2/3 [vote] for taxes constitutional amendment,” Eyman told AM 770 KTTH’s David Boze. “If the Legislature is going to raise our taxes, it should take a 2/3 vote of the House and the Senate. That policy has been approved five times by the voters. We want to make it permanent with a constitutional amendment.”
Eyman argues that Washington has infrequently had a 2/3 voting policy in the past, so the idea is nothing new. But he notes that when the policy is suspended, such as in 2010, legislators have raised taxes. In 2010, taxes were raised by $6.7 billion, he said.
“We just have to tell voters, ‘You liked it when it was temporary. Do you like it more or less if it will be permanent?'” Eyman told Boze.
Dropping the sales tax rate from 6.5 to 5.5 percent would cost the state approximately $1 billion, according to Ballotpedia and those who oppose the initiative.
The initiative has already garnered opposition from organizations vowing to defeat it. The Northwest Progressive Institute has waged an effort to build a coalition to overpower the initiative. Calling I-1366 Eyman’s “most destructive initiative yet,” the institute has already started a “No On I-1366” website.
The opposition argues that cutting tax revenue by $1 billion threatens the state’s ability to fund education and “permanently prevent lawmakers from working together to fix our broken tax code,” according to www.no1366.org.
“I-1366 is politics at its worst. It’s a conniving, mean-spirited scheme to wreck government so it can’t work the way that our founders intended. It deserves our enthusiastic and wholehearted opposition,” the website states.
Eyman’s Initiative 1366 is a follow-up to 2010’s voter-approved Initiative 1053, which aimed to establish a 2/3 legislative vote to approve any tax increase. But the state’s Supreme Court shot the approved initiative down because the state’s constitution states that only a majority vote is required for such legislation. A change to the constitution is therefore needed to make a 2/3 policy possible.