This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
Tuesday’s election returns suggest that Washington is becoming a libertarian paradise – a place where gays can marry, marijuana is legal and parents might even be given the choice of independent schools for their children.
But oh, by the way – not a penny more for public education or other state programs.
A telltale piece of evidence lies deep in the down-ballot election returns, in the tally on two advisory votes that have no legal effect whatsoever.
The 2012 Legislature voted to end a tax break for big banks and maintain a soon-to-expire tax on petroleum inventories.
Both moves got broad bipartisan support in the Legislature. When candidates talk about “loopholes,” they’re talking about items like the banks’ deduction for home-loan interest and tax breaks for the petroleum industry.
What did the voters think? Apparently, if it can be construed as a tax increase – even for a coddled industry – they don’t like it. On election day, the big banks got a 58 percent thumbs-up from the electorate.
Meanwhile, voters overwhelmingly enacted Initiative 1185, which reaffirmed the existing requirement that new taxes need a two-thirds majority in the Legislature. Even with two-thirds, the lawmakers in that supermajority must be publicly shamed through the advisory vote process, which involves publishing their names in the voters’ pamphlet.
Referendum 74’s narrow victory was a breakthrough for marriage equality. But it was no money out of pocket for Washingtonians. One wonders how it might have fared had it actually required some minimal financial sacrifice to enact it. It’s a fortunate thing that civil rights don’t come with a price tag attached.
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