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The short shelf life of initiatives

Post by Kim Bradford on April 22, 2010 at 6:41 am |
April 22, 2010 11:22 am

Leave it to Tim Eyman – a guy who devotes his life to convincing voters and donors that changing state law via the ballot box is a good idea – to point out that citizen initiatives really don’t have much staying power. Eyman sent this transcript of yesterday’s press conference on Initiative 1077, which we commented on here.

Bryan Johnson, KOMO TV asks: “Does anyone have to fear soon this (income tax threshold) will creep to above $150,000, and then above $100,000, and then everybody pays?”

Bill Gates Sr. responds: “Uhh, the, the initiative provides that the rates and levels cannot be changed without a vote of the people. So there is that protection built in.”

Essex Porter, KIRO TV follows up: “But could you expand on that, because initiatives can usually be changed after two years. And Initiative 960 was changed after two years and there was a vote of the people there.”

Bill Gates Sr. responds: “Uh, that’s right, that’s a very astute question. And I don’t know that anybody knows completely the answer for that. But for myself, I would be astonished if, given that specific provision in this specific tax statute, that the Legislature would undertake to make a change in it without complying with the language of the initiative and going to the people to get their permission.”

Hope springs eternal. Unfortunately for Gates, the Legislature’s recent track record blows his argument. Remember I-960 and its requirement that tax increases go to a vote of the people? Eyman sure does. So do a lot of other voters who will be deciding the fate of I-1077 this fall.

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