The Washington State Senate approved a bill that would amend portions of the taxpayer protection law created by voter-approved Initiative 960, which limits state government’s ability to raise and create new taxes and provides transparency to the revenue-generating process.
Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood and member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, spoke against the passage of Senate Bill 6843 before voting against it, saying that approving the bill is essentially disregarding the will of the people the Senate represents.
“This legislative body ignored the clear will of the people of Washington today,” Carrell said. “The public hearing on the bill was just four days ago, and less than 24 hours after it was introduced. That’s not nearly enough time to get a good sense of public opinion on the idea. To then bring it to the floor today and pass it shows the level of disregard some members of the majority party have for the people who put them in office.”
A Democrat senator proposed a striking amendment to SB 6843 which made it so the bill would only remove the two-thirds legislative vote requirement for tax increases for any tax increase bill passed between now and July 1, 2011. In its original form, the bill would have also required a two-thirds vote for any tax increase used to fund a voter-approved initiative passed without a funding source. Carrell offered an additional amendment that would have changed the end date to Jan. 1, 2011. Its passage would have prevented a simple majority vote to raise taxes from extending into the 2011-13 biennium. The amendment was not adopted.
Before the striking amendment was adopted, the bill also would have amended the definition of what it means to “raise taxes” by excluding the repeal of a tax incentive; restricted public notification of tax increases to the public; and repealed the taxpayer protection law’s requirement for an advisory vote of the people on tax increases adopted by the Legislature.
“Last year, our state hit the budgetary iceberg,” Carrell said. “And like the Titanic, it appears that this year the message is that we need to put more coal in the burners to get the propellers moving faster. The reality is that simply will not work. While we were able to make this bill a bit less painful, the majority still chose to go directly against the will of the people who overwhelmingly approved I-960 three years ago. I’m sure the people will have their say on this come November.”
Carrell will be hosting town hall meetings in the 28th Legislative District in less than two weeks. Both will take place on Saturday, Feb. 20. The first will be held at 10 a.m. at Lakewood City Hall, 6000 Main St. SW, and the second will be held at 1 p.m. at University Place Town Center, 3715 Bridgeport Way W, in Suite B-1. Carrell added that he is looking forward to hearing from all of his constituents who may feel let down by today’s vote.