I urge you to join me in preserving a fundamental principle of our constitutional government, majority rule. Consider the dire consequences of Tim Eyman’s latest initiative – if passed – and then join me in voting against Initiative 1366.
When delegates met to draft our United States constitution in 1787 and to draft our Washington state constitution in 1889, they were philosophically conscientious about making sure that a minority could not control the people’s legislative process. Article II, Section 22, of our Washington state Constitution is in keeping with the values that Washington and the United States were founded on.
As Alexander Hamilton explains in The Federalist No. 22, a democratic legislative body quickly becomes dysfunctional and useless when it doesn’t operate by majority vote: “What at first sight may seem a remedy is, in reality, a poison.”
Giving extraordinary power to a minority on taxation votes is bad government. My point is that the initiative’s goal of a two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes would fundamentally change our state’s constitutional framework of representative government. Don’t take it lightly. Think of future generations. We don’t want to stick them with a government that can’t adjust to the times and solve problems.
In simple terms, Eyman is holding the Legislature hostage – allowing a 17-member minority of 49 senators to dictate budget decisions, or face billions in cuts.
According to I-1366, if the Legislature does not put his proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, one percent of sales tax or 8 billion dollars in revenue would be stripped from the state’s operating budget over the next six years. Cuts of this magnitude would create major holes in bipartisan funding to K-12 education and higher education, health and human services, law enforcement, along with many other essential services that our communities depend on.
With the state Supreme Court making clear that K-12 education is already underfunded – a reality parents see every day – losing additional resources makes kids the real victims of Eyman’s I-1366.
This is not a new idea: Eyman has tried and failed with several initiatives to force changes to our Legislature and budgeting, losing both at the ballot box and in court. Similarly, I-1366 is constitutionally flawed – if it passes the legal questions alone will cost taxpayers resources better invested elsewhere.
Previous rulings have already deemed the idea of a super-majority as unconstitutional, and as a result Eyman’s new efforts are to change the Constitution, or allow the public to suffer an 8 billion dollar loss.
I-1366 is politics at its worst – a profit-making scheme for Eyman that undermines our Constitution and threatens hard-won gains for our kids and communities.
Voters should send a clear message that enough is enough, and join the bipartisan coalition opposing Initiative 1366. Let’s reject this false choice and take positive steps to make our government more accountable, fair, and focused.
Sam Reed served three terms as Washington secretary of state and nearly 23 years as Thurston County auditor.