Yes on Initiative 1053: Measure corrects wrong committed by Legislature

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Three times the voters of Washington state have approved initiatives requiring either a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or a majority vote of the people to raise taxes. Yet Olympia took it away this year, despite overwhelming citizen opposition. According to KING 5’s statewide poll, 68 percent of voters thought it was the wrong thing to do. When asked whether tax increases should require a two-thirds vote or a majority vote, a whopping 74 percent said two-thirds.

Ballot title: Initiative 1053

Initiative Measure No. 1053 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government. This measure would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval.

Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes ( ) No ( )

For more information about Initiative 1053, including official impact, explanatory statement and statements for and against, visit http://www.vote.wa.gov then click on”2010 General Election Voters’ Guide,” then click on “State Measures.”

Voters want tax increases to be an absolute last resort.

For the two years following voters’ approval in 2007, Initiative 960 worked exactly as voters intended. With I-960, tax increases were a last resort and Olympia balanced its budgets without raising taxes. This year without I-960, legislators increased taxes $6.7 billion (that’s how much it’ll cost us over the first 10 years according to the state’s budget office). I-1053 brings back I-960’s protections.

We need certainty in tough economic times. The worst thing state government could do right now is hamper the conditions for economic growth. Washington state lost 16,000 jobs this year — only eight states lost more. We need an economic climate where families feel confident, employers expand, and job growth is positive. I-1053 provides a stable future, giving families and employers the certainty they need to prosper.

Olympia faces another massive deficit because unsustainable spending has once again outstripped revenue. We simply can’t afford to have it all. With I-1053, Olympia will finally be forced to reform government, prioritize spending and re-evaluate existing programs. Without I-1053, they’ll resort to job-killing, family-budget-busting tax increases (just like they did this year).

Opponents of I-1053 make it sound like we’re proposing something brand new. The fact is that, since 1993, Washington had the two-thirds vote requirement for the Legislature to raise taxes. In those 17 years, during legislative sessions when it’s been in effect, tax hikes were a last resort resulting in more reform and fewer taxes. When Olympia suspends it (as happened this year), tax increases become a first resort, resulting in less reform and much higher taxes.

Opponents say you shouldn’t vote for I-1053 because it’s unconstitutional. They’ve been saying that since 1993 but the courts consistently disagree. There have been three legal challenges to the two-thirds policy and three times the court has dismissed them (the last time was a unanimous vote of the state supreme court). As Article I, section 2 of our state Constitution reads: “The legislative authority of the state of Washington shall be vested in the Legislature … but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose bills, laws, and to enact or reject the same at the polls, independent of the Legislature.” That’s all we’re doing with I-1053.

Before this year’s legislative session began, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said, “We have to get 960 overturned as soon as possible.” Speaker of the House Frank Chopp said, “We must suspend 960 to carry out the will of the people.” Gov. Chris Gregoire said citizens should “stop meddling” and “leave it to us.” This shows that increasing taxes was their first resort, not the last resort.

In a September 2008 debate, Gregoire said, “I won’t raise taxes in tough economic times … we’re not going to be raising taxes.” Nonetheless, after overturning I-960, she radically increased taxes $6.7 billion and jumped on the state-income-tax bandwagon. I-1053 is needed to protect us when politicians don’t keep their promises.

The people are being forced to pass this again and again because Olympia keeps refusing to abide by this voter-approved law. oters have approved the two-thirds requirement three times; let’s make it four with I-1053.

It shouldn’t be easy for government to take more of the people’s money. Let’s bring back the protection Olympia took away and hold them accountable for your tax dollars — vote YES on 1053.

Brad Carlson is the owner of Evergreen Memorial Gardens and has been in business in Vancouver since 1952.