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Tim Eyman seeks initiative to sunset tax increases after one year

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on April 22, 2013 at 10:54 am with No Comments »
April 22, 2013 12:53 pm

Courts have struck down Tim Eyman’s efforts to make all tax increases go to public votes and to require supermajorities in the Legislature for tax increases to pass. Eyman’s latest offering would try a third way of limiting taxes.

As described by the conservative initiative promoter, his proposal would make three changes:

I-1125 sponsor Tim Eyman (Igor Strupinskiy photo)
Tim Eyman (Igor Strupinskiy photo)
  • Tax increases passed by the Legislature expire after one year unless renewed. In the meantime, voters would continue to get advisory votes on taxes as they do under current law (passed as part of an Eyman initiative), putting potential public pressure on lawmakers.
  • A new kind of advisory vote would be on the ballot every year. It would ask if there should be a public vote on whether to embed the two-thirds-for-taxes requirement into the state constitution.
  • When they run for re-election, lawmakers’ and the governor’s records on tax increases would be published in the voter’s pamphlet along with other candidate information.

Eyman maintained the tax limits are constitutional, despite a general legal principle that laws can’t bind future Legislatures. Indeed, he argued, they would leave it up to each session of the Legislature to decide for itself whether to pass taxes.

In advisory votes last year, voters symbolically rejected some tax breaks the Legislature eliminated, but lawmakers didn’t respond. This would give such advisory votes new symbolic importance.

“We think that’s really, really important, that the opinions of the voters being expressed, that the legislators actually have to consider them,” Eyman said.

It would limit lawmakers’ budgeting ability since they wouldn’t be able to pass a full two-year budget’s worth of taxes.

UPDATE 12:50 p.m.:

The one-year limit would be canceled if the Legislature passes a 2/3 constitutional amendment.

Eyman isn’t saying yet if he will seek to put his initiative on the 2013 ballot.

If he does, and manages to gather enough signatures — and he generally does — there would be two Eyman initiatives in November. The other one deals with the initiative process itself.

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