October 15, 2015 by maclangford
Registered voters of San Juan County will receive in the mail this week their ballots for the elections on November 3. The San Juan County Democrats urge a No vote on Washington State Initiative-1366, primarily because of the devastating impact a Yes vote would have on our state’s K-12 education, already under crisis because of the unwillingness of Republicans to support the necessary state education budgets.
Mac Langford of Lopez Island provides details on the background and impact of the proposed initiative:
Tim Eyman has a new measure on the November 3 ballot, Initiative-1366. If approved it would decrease the state’s sales tax from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, unless the legislature refers a constitutional amendment to the ballot requiring a two-thirds vote in the legislature or voter approval to raise taxes. Opponents have compared the initiative to hostage taking or blackmail.
In the past Eyman has had inordinate success in convincing voters to support tax decreasing measures, so it is critical that everyone become informed on this latest effort.
Supporters of I-1366 claim it is the best way to thwart the threat of a state income tax or capital gains tax, which they claim is being engineered by Olympia Democratic clandestine tax hiking schemes. They say they want to control the size of government by making it more difficult to raise taxes.
The effort is being supported by Voters Want More Choices (http://www.voterswantmorechoices.com) with most of the financing as of March coming from real estate developers Clyde Holland and Kemper Freeman, Jr. (https://www.nwprogressive.org/weblog/2015/03/meet-tim-eymans-new-wealthy-benefactor-developer-clyde-holland-of-holland-partners.html).
Opponents, led by No on Tim Eyman’s I-1366 (https://www.no1366.org), assert the fiscal impact would be devastating: They quote the State Office of Financial Management – “If the Legislature does not refer a constitutional amendment to voters for consideration at the November 2016 general election, over the next six fiscal years, sales tax revenue for the state General Fund would decrease $8 billion. Sales tax revenue for the state Performance Audit Account would decrease $12.8 million. State business and occupation (B&O) tax revenue would increase $39.9 million. Local tax revenue would increase $226.1 million. State expenditures would be $598,000. If an amendment is referred to voters, fiscal year 2017 state election expenditures would increase $101,000. There would be an unknown increase in local government election expenditures.” The No campaign asserts Eyman’s argument that taxes collected each year have been increasing does not take into account inflation, population growth, and new development.
They argue, “The amendment desired by Eyman would permanently transfer control over the outcome of decisions on raising or recovering revenue into the hands of a few instead of the many.” A procedure using a super majority to pass a piece of legislation, in this case 66 2/3%, means that a significant minority has veto power. When arguing against requiring a super majority, James Madison in The Federalist Papers No. 58 put it this way: “In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority. Were the defensive privilege limited to particular cases, an interested minority might take advantage of it to screen themselves from equitable sacrifices to the general weal, or, in particular emergencies, to extort unreasonable indulgences.”
The opposition to I-1366 also underscores the devastating impact on public education in the state. Quoting from their arguments: “(R)educing the state sales tax would wipe out about $1 billion per year in funding for our public schools. The paramount duty of state government is to provide for the education of Washington’s youth. The state sales tax and state property tax are primary (sic) used to fund K-12 education… Given that the initiative would take away money from our schools, we believe it to be unconstitutional, as it would prevent the state from fulfilling its paramount duty under Article IX of our Constitution, which the state Supreme Court has ruled the state is already violating in the McCleary case.”
A case challenging the initiative has gone before the state Supreme Court. The court is withholding legal judgement and allowing it to proceed to the ballot. While the court has indicated concerns with the measure, it feels it cannot pass judgement on something that has not yet been enacted.
In addition to sources cited above are other places to go for information, including: