Critics argue that a two-thirds rule is “undemocratic.” They are wrong. I-1053 is a direct act of the people upon the state. You cannot get more democratic than that.
Under I-1053, if the Legislature cannot muster two-thirds approval of both houses, it may by simple majority refer a tax to the people, who can vote approval by a simple majority. That is supremely democratic. The defenders of legislative power should get their terminology right. I-1053 may be unrepublican. It is not undemocratic.
…legislators have abdicated their responsibility to reform ways in which government services and programs are delivered. Instead of resetting government and making it more efficient, lawmakers have lazily resorted to hackneyed budget solutions that are obsolete in this, the greatest economic crisis in seven decades. Democrats, especially, in the Legislature have only talked about reform, while at the same time refusing to make unionized state workers share in the same recession-related burdens that private-sector workers have incurred.
The entire purpose is to make it difficult, but not impossible, to raise taxes. While we typically prefer majority rule and believe in the value of representative democracy, there are times when raising taxes should be made difficult, when the condition of the economy and the long-term needs of the state should turn attention to reforming and reducing rather than refilling.
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We elect lawmakers to balance the budget. If we don’t like the way they do it, we can send them packing. But it’s unfair to take away one of their tools — tax increases. This initiative essentially gives a narrow minority — 17 senators or 34 House members, the difference of a simple majority and supermajority — veto authority on budget matters.
That’s not right nor is it democratic.
On the surface, Tim Eyman’s latest initiative, I-1053, is attractive — even seductive. It should be harder to raise taxes: Why not require a two-thirds “super-majority” vote for any new tax, or for the elimination of any tax loophole?
The answer: It would give a small, ideological minority a stranglehold over the state budget.
If we had a two-thirds requirement, breaking an annual impasse on taxes and spending — as witnessed each year in the California Legislature — would take months and require often-tawdry backroom deals.
Initiative zombie Tim Eyman is behind this thing—reason enough to vote no. But if you want policy reasons, here they are: Initiative 1053 would require a two-thirds majority to pass any tax increase in the state legislature. Sound familiar? That’s because Eyman got voters to pass essentially this same stupid initiative in 2007.
I-1053 would give a minority party outsized power to block tax increases while also disavowing the painful choices forced by hits to existing revenues.
The majority could go directly to the voters for approval – at the risk of waiting months for a budget patch that may never materialize. The Legislature, given the magnitude of the state’s fiscal problems, needs to act more nimbly than that.
With nearly 10 percent of Washingtonians out of work and looking for jobs, the strain on government help is enormous.
Yes, times are bad. But they have been worse.
And they can get worse.
Telling the state Legislature that if trouble comes, “we don’t want you to do anything about it,” is an ostrich answer — leaving lawmakers with no alternative to sticking their heads in the sand.