Voter’s voice denied on 2/3rds tax increase amendment

Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, voted today to let Washington voters have the final say on requiring a higher level of approval for tax measures. Senate Joint Resolution 8211, which would change the state constitution so that tax increases would need support from a two-thirds majority of lawmakers, failed to receive the necessary 33 votes in the Senate for adoption which means voters will not be able to decide on a ballot measure to change the state constitution.

“The voters in Washington have said six times for over two decades that it should be harder for the state to raise taxes and their voice should be heard,” said Warnick. “The solution to our state’s challenges is not taking more and more of the people’s money. Our Senate majority has demonstrated that we can make issues like education a priority without raising taxes. Minority Democrats in the Senate made every excuse as to why they didn’t trust the people of Washington to have a voice, and I think they are wrong.”

A respected research poll conducted statewide in December found 60 percent of those responding believe a supermajority vote by lawmakers should be required to raise taxes; 65 percent agreed voters should be given a chance to vote on whether to make the supermajority tax-approval rule part of the state constitution.

“Today’s vote was not about taxes. Today’s vote was about the people,” Warnick said. “In 2012, 73 percent the voters in my district supported I-1185, which required a two-thirds majority to raise taxes only to have the state Supreme Court rule it unconstitutional. It is disappointing that this effort to let voters decide if they want to amend their constitution was defeated.”

SJR 8211 would define “raise taxes” as any action or combination of actions that increase state tax revenue deposited into any fund, budget, or account. It also would require a simple-majority vote in both legislative chambers to impose or increase a fee in any fiscal year; that change would end lawmakers’ practice of delegating the fee-setting authority to various agencies.