Orcutt proposes constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes

'The voters have weighed in on this issue with enough frequency and fervor to warrant a place for it in the state constitution,' says Orcutt

 

Legislation was introduced in Olympia today to place familiar taxpayer protections into the state constitution.

The requirement for a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to raise taxes has been consistently approved by voters in recent years. Last November, Initiative 1053 was approved statewide by nearly 64 percent.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, assistant ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, proposed the legislation as a way to provide long-term protections for taxpayers.

“Frankly, we need to end this 'tax increase tug-of-war' that finds desperate legislators warring with voters over tax increases year after year,” said Orcutt, R-Kalama.  “The majority party in Olympia overturned the taxpayer protection act last year and raised taxes simply because they could.  The temptation to raise taxes instead of resetting state government is obviously too great to resist.  This led to a devastating delay in implementing the real solutions needed for sustainable budget.  As a result, we need to implement strong constitutional protections when it comes to raising taxes in order to restore trust in government and provide accountability and sustainability with our budgets moving forward.”

Orcutt's legislation places the two-thirds vote requirement into the state constitution, thus eliminating the Legislature's ability to amend the law after two years, which they have done numerous times.

“Unless we heed the will of the voters – who have made it abundantly clear time and time again that they want it to be difficult to raise taxes – our budgets will continue down a rollercoaster path of uncertainty,” Orcutt said.  “When times are bad, the first option should not be to raise taxes, and legislators should not pass budgets that rely on the untenable assumption of increased taxes that are likely to be overturned by voters in the next election.”

Orcutt noted that another initiative has been filed by Tim Eyman this year in anticipation of the Legislature overturning the will of the people at the next legal opportunity.

“I understand why Mister Eyman felt it necessary to file another taxpayer protection initiative for this year,” Orcutt said.  “With the recent actions by the majority party in Olympia, who can blame him?  But why waste the time, money and effort year after year when we can just place it in the state constitution and be done with it?  The voters have weighed in on this issue with enough frequency and fervor to warrant a place for it in the state constitution.”

Orcutt's legislation is a high priority for the House Republican Caucus, as it was named one of their top-five priorities for the session.

The 105-day 2011 session is scheduled to end April 24.

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For more information, contact Brendon Wold, Senior Information Officer: (360) 786-7698

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov