Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yes on I-1185, the Two-Thirds Tax Requirement

The election is upon us! In recent days I have received both the poorly-named, 143-page voters' "pamphlet" with sample ballot as well as my actual ballot. I have until 8pm on Election Day to get it back to the government, so it's time to do my homework. First up is an easy one:

I-1185, the Two-Thirds Tax Requirement

The Issue: Current law in Washington state requires tax increases to be passed with a two-thirds majority in both houses of the state legislature, or by a simple majority in a popular vote. This law has been passed four times by popular initiative, most recently in 2007 and 2010. It was overturned by the legislature upon losing initiative protection in 2010. I-1185 renews the law to prevent it from being overturned in 2013. The pro-1185 website is here; the anti-1185 website is here.

My Position: I wholeheartedly support I-1185, and indeed any law that provides a check on the government's ability to take my money at will. The two-thirds requirement makes it more likely that taxes will only be raised when it truly is necessary.

Counterarguments: There seem to be four main arguments against I-1185:

1) Taxes should be higher, and I-1185 makes it more difficult to raise them as high as they should be, negatively impacting government services. (Rebuttal: No, taxes should not be higher. Important services can be funded by cutting non-important spending. If everything the government is doing is so important that none of it can be cut, then it should be easy to get a two-thirds vote in the legislature or a simple majority popular vote.)

2) I-1185 is unfair because it allows tax cuts & loopholes to be passed with a simple majority, but reversing those cuts & loopholes requires a two-thirds majority. (Rebuttal: This is true, but I have to admit, I'm just fine with a system that's biased towards letting me keep more of my own money.)

3) A two-thirds requirement is undemocratic. (Rebuttal: I-1185 allows tax increases via direct, simply majority popular votes. Nothing could be more democratic than that.)

4) A two-thirds requirement is unconstitutional. (Rebuttal: I would certainly prefer a constitutional amendment that does what I-1185 does, but constitutional amendments must be proposed by the legislature, and wouldn't you know it, they don't seem to like amendments that limit their own power. If an initiative as beneficial as I-1185 actually is unconstitutional, that would be a failure of the state constitution, not the initiative.)

I will be voting YES on I-1185.

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