Evan Smith on Politics: Despite court decision, don’t expect big tax increases without public vote

Sunday, March 3, 2013

By Evan Smith

A State Supreme Court decision overturned the requirement that tax increases require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature unless there is a statewide public vote. But don’t expect any big tax increases without a public vote.

That’s what a State senator from a nearby district told me last week.

Democratic State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe said that legislators would be likely to send any major tax increase to voters.

McAuliffe, who represents Bothell, Brier and the rest of the 1st Legislative District, said that legislators learned from the 2010 legislation that created a tax on candy and soda pop. A successful campaign brought an initiative that repealed the tax.

So, McAuliffe said that legislators won’t let any major tax bill pass without referring it to voters.

The only kind of tax that legislators may pass without a public vote is the kind of closing of tax breaks that 32nd District Democratic State Rep. Cindy Ryu and other first-year legislators tried to pass in 2011.

When Ryu and other 2011 first-year legislators tried to remove a tax preference for out-of-state banks, their bill got a majority but fell short of the required two-thirds, leading Ryu and other legislators to join the suit that the Supreme Court upheld last week.

Expect a few such small tax bills from this year’s legislature, but look for anything bigger to show up on the November ballot.


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