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Voters’ message: No taxes, no bail, no privatization

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Nov. 4, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
November 4, 2010 5:39 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington voters are an independent lot. There’s no way to put a party label on the way they voted on Tuesday’s ballot measures.

As they’ve demonstrated time and time again, they don’t like taxes and will repeal them, shrink them or prevent them almost every chance they get.

By approving Initiative 1053 almost two-to-one (as of Thursday), Washingtonians emphatically forbade the Legislature from enacting any new tax without either a two-thirds supermajority in both the House and Senate, or a vote of the people. The clear message: Don’t even think about squeezing more money out of us in the pit of this economic hell.

Initiative 1098 – the proposed income tax on high earners – got crushed by almost the same margin. Voters were rightly suspicious that the Legislature might spread that tax to lower income brackets in the next hard economy.

The fate of I-1098 will probably spook lawmakers away from the concept of a state income tax for another generation. If only voters had been offered a far better version: a constitutionally capped income tax that would reduce – not add to – the state’s excessive sales tax.

While they were at it, Washingtonians repealed the bottled water-and-soda tax the Legislature used to wire a balanced budget together in April. That means the state’s multi-billion-dollar fiscal crisis just got $272 million deeper.

Voters to Legislature: Deal with it.

You’d think this anti-tax electorate was also anti-government. Not so. By a large margin, Washingtonians rejected a proposal to let employers buy workers’ compensation insurance from private carriers. Washington will remain among the handful of states that maintain a government monopoly on workers’ comp.

By rejecting Initiatives 1100 and 1105, the voters also preserved the state monopoly on liquor sales. If selling vodka and whiskey is a core function of government, what isn’t?

If there’s one thing that united Washingtonians this year, it was outrage over the fact that Maurice Clemmons made bail in Pierce County last year and proceeded on to gun down four Lakewood police officers in a Parkland cafe.

That atrocity cast an ugly light on the Washington Constitution’s provision that bail can be denied only to defendants charged with capital offenses. Even a one-man crime wave like Clemmons had to be offered bail.

Engrossed Substitute House Joint Resolution 4220 proposed to amend the constitution so any potential lifer could be kept in jail pending trial. The voters went for it, 85 percent to 15 percent. Clemmons may be dead and buried, but he’s just had a truckload of manure dumped on his grave.

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