AWB statement on Supreme Court Two-Thirds Tax Ruling
Rejection of supermajority defies voters’ continued support for tax limits
OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business expressed disappointment today over the Washington State Supreme Court decision to strike down a two-thirds majority for lawmakers to raise taxes, citing five previous affirmations by the voting public as justification for limits on state government’s taxing abilities.
“The state Supreme Court’s decision today is a disappointment and sends voters a clear message: your opinion doesn’t matter when it comes to tax decisions in Washington state. That’s a sharp rebuke of the voting public,” said AWB President Don Brunell.
“Washington voters have approved five separate ballot measures, starting with Initiative 601 in 1993 and most recently this past November with Initiative 1185. These measures were properly brought forward and approved with increasing levels of support from a broad spectrum of the voting public in our state,” added Brunell.
“Nearly sixty-four percent of general election voters from all backgrounds and occupations voted to approve Initiative 1185 with a clear understanding that limits must be placed on government’s ability to tax the people,” he said.
“As we have seen first-hand when this rule is in place, a two-thirds requirement forces lawmakers to prioritize spending, find efficiencies and solve problems together.”
Voters in the state of Washington have approved five separate ballot measures requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature before raising taxes, the most recent of which being Initiative 1185 in 2012. The complete list of measures includes:
• Initiative 601 (1993) — Approved by 51.21%
• Referendum 49 (1998) — Approved by 57.14%
• Initiative 960 (2007) — Approved by 51.24%
• Initiative 1053 (2010) — Approved by 63.75%
• Initiative 1185 (2012) — Approved by 63.91%
On Tuesday, AWB testified in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 8205, which would ask voters to change the constitution and put a two-thirds vote requirement in the constitution. Lawmakers also approved a similar measure in 2006 with SB 6896.
“At this point, the logical solution to this challenge is a change in the state constitution. This issue has ping-ponged around our courts and our ballots for too long.
“Lawmakers must also balance today’s decision with the will of the people who sent them to Olympia,” added Brunell. “Initiative 1185 passed in all 49 counties and failed in just four legislative districts. Many lawmakers will need to weigh the will of the people in their own districts in the wake of this decision. The people have spoken, time and again.”
About the Association of Washington Business
Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 8,000 members representing 700,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit www.awb.org.