Deputy Majority Leader Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia voted Friday to let Washingtonians have the final word on requiring a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to raise taxes. Senate Joint Resolution 8211, which would let voters decide on a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority to raise taxes, failed to receive support from the Senate’s minority Democrats, falling short of the 33 votes needed to move to the House of Representatives.
“The voters in our state have said numerous times that it should be more difficult for the Legislature to raise taxes and I’m disappointed that the measure failed,” said Braun. “Today’s vote was about letting the taxpayers exercise their right to amend their constitution concerning taxes.”
Voters approved Initiative 1185 in 2012 which would have limited the Legislature’s ability to raise taxes, requiring a two-thirds majority vote. However, the state Supreme Court ruled that initiative unconstitutional in 2013.
“I believe that Washingtonians deserved an opportunity to vote on an amendment to our state’s constitution on this issue,” said Braun. “In 2012, 75 percent of the voters in my district supported making it harder for the state to take more of their hard-earned money and I don’t think that sentiment has changed. I’m disappointed that some here in Olympia think the only solution to the problems facing our state is more taxes and are unwilling to let the citizens vote on this constitutional change.”
SJR 8211defined “raise taxes” as any action or combination of actions that increase state tax revenue deposited into any fund, budget, or account. It also required a simple-majority vote in both legislative chambers to impose or increase a fee; that change would end lawmakers’ practice of delegating the fee-setting authority to various state agencies.