Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

Was 5th Time Around be the Charm for Washington State Voters?

We’ll soon know if lawmakers will listen to voters on taxes as the Legislature convenes Jan. 14

Updated Jan. 12, 2013

In terms of time management and aggravation, people in Seattle and throughout Washington dislike having to perform the same chore twice. Especially, when the chore is necessitated by politicians’ disingenuous behavior. 

But when it comes to taxes, many lawmakers in the Washington State Legislature mistakenly think it’s OK to annoy voters on the same issue over and over again.  

Five times in the past two decades, voters have passed initiatives directing the Legislature not to raise taxes without a two-thirds majority or voter approval. The initiatives require that lawmakers wait two years before voting to circumvent the will of the people.  

So, just like clockwork — as soon as the two-year period expires — guess what? The merry-go-round ride starts again, as lawmakers proceed to violate the will of the people. Repeatedly, voters complain they don’t enjoy the rides and have passed tax initiatives.  

Voters most-recently spoke on Election Day in 2012 when they easily passed I-1185. In approving the initiative, voters also told the legislators to rescind their two tax hikes passed in the 2012 session. 

On many occasions over the years, lawmakers haven’t been transparent in their behavior. Fortunately, the state’s leading think tank – the Washington Policy Center (WPC) – uses terrific investigative techniques to inform the electorate with excellent analyses about lawmakers’ chicanery. 

“Just in case a translation for these votes is really needed, lawmakers should focus their attention on balancing the 2013-15 without tax increases,” blogged Jason Mercier, WPC’s director, Center for Government Reform. His piece was entitled, “Olympia: Can you hear taxpayers now?” 

He also wrote:

“Since I-1185 was anything but new policy (most recently passed by 64% of the voters in 2010) our policy analysis advised voters to treat the decision as an opportunity to clearly frame the budget debate and send a message to Olympia that voters weren’t kidding the last four times they adopted this requirement with the hope that our elected officials will feel some obligation to their constituents to end this debate once and for all by referring the question to voters in the form of a constitutional amendment.”

Prior to the 2012 election, WPC queried 128 candidates and lawmakers:

“If Initiative 1185 is adopted, would you vote to allow the people of Washington to have the opportunity to vote on a state constitution amendment to require a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes?”

Unfortunately, only 109 of them – 52 percent — responded. See their replies here. (WPC will update the survey to show which of them were elected.)

Recently, in a Tacoma News Tribune op-ed, Mr. Mercier also called for even-more legislative action:

“A constitutional amendment would provide the public and businesses with predictability about whether this tax protection will exist from year to year and whether or not the four-time (pending fifth) approval of the voters for this policy was a fluke or actually reflects their consistent and ongoing desire for lawmakers to build a strong public consensus on the need for any proposed tax increase.

“With voters and lawmakers repeatedly enacting the supermajority vote for taxes requirement over the past 20 years, what could be more representative of the public will than allowing a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to help end this debate once and for all?” he asked.

Good question.

From the Coach’s Corner, WPC has often been a great source of information for this portal – here’s a handful of articles:

“The people are hungry: It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes.” 

-Lao Tzu

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.