This year’s Initiative 1366 should look familiar: Voters have had a 22-year track record of overwhelmingly approving initiatives that make it tougher for Olympia to raise their taxes.
Regardless of your political leanings – whether you are a Republican, Democrat or independent voter – isn’t it better when state government prioritizes spending and reforms government rather than just raising taxes? State lawmakers have proven time and again that if it’s easy to raise taxes, they will. And they’ve shown us over and over again that without these tougher-to-raise-taxes policies, they’ll impose higher taxes on regular taxpayers.
For me, it’s easy to support I-1366: I served in the Legislature for nearly 10 years. I know how Olympia works: There is relentless pressure to raise taxes.
In 2005 and 2010, two sessions without the two-thirds vote requirement, a simple majority raised taxes by the billions ($9 billion in higher taxes in 2005 and $6.7 billion in 2010). I didn’t want that to happen at the county level.
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One of my proudest achievements as a Pierce County councilman was sponsoring a tougher-to-raise-taxes charter amendment that 67 percent of Pierce County voters approved in2012. Together, we permanently changed our county constitution so that tax increases by county government would forever require a two-thirds council vote.
I-1366 is all about giving that same permanent protection at the state level with a 2/3-for-taxes constitutional amendment. I firmly believe that all taxpayers will benefit if the entire state adopts the same permanent protection Pierce County already has.
As a husband and father of five kids, I know how tough it is when the government continually takes more and more because that means less and less for you and your family to spend on your needs and priorities. As a small business owner, I’ve seen first-hand how tax increases can hurt our local economy and dampen job growth.
Unfortunately, too many politicians don’t get that. What happens in Olympia all the time is pro-tax legislators talk about raising taxes on “the rich” but whenever taxes are actually increased, powerful lobbyists protect their clients and you and I get stuck with higher sales taxes, gas taxes, property taxes, car tab taxes and utility taxes.
Recognizing this political reality, five times the voters have approved initiatives requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature – or majority vote of the people – to raise taxes. In 2012, 1.9 million voters (64 percent) approved the two-thirds requirement, getting more votes than any initiative in state history.
Voters clearly want tax increases to be an absolute last resort. Olympia won’t listen to the people unless we pass Initiative 1366 in November.
Recent history proves it. This year’s Legislature, without the two-thirds requirement in effect, increased taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion. Passing I-1366 sends a clear message: We need protection from Olympia’s insatiable tax appetite.
I-1366 is rightly called the Taxpayer Protection Act; it’s all about protecting taxpayers with a tougher-to-raise-taxes constitutional amendment. After five votes of the people, I believe the voters have earned the right to permanently protect themselves with this common sense policy.
History shows that initiative campaigns on taxes get a consistent reaction from Olympia: Lgislators interpret the voters’ approval of a tax initiative as a mandate to be fiscally responsible and responsive to the people. And legislators see voters' rejection of a tax initiative as a green light to increase spending and raise your taxes even more.
What does this mean for I-1366? When voters pass I-1366, Olympia will be prodded to reform government, prioritize spending and re-evaluate existing programs. If voters reject I-1366, Olympia will resort to job-killing, family-budget-busting tax increases.
Protect yourself from Olympia’s insatiable tax appetite by voting to approve I-1366.