- The Washington Times - Friday, April 13, 2012


The other Washington - the state on the left coast - is fed up with taxes. That’s a bit surprising considering the liberal outpost happily cast its 11 electoral votes for Barack Obama and hasn’t sided with a Republican in nearly three decades. The same public that keeps selecting tax-happy lawmakers also endorses ballot measures to prevent them from extracting yet more money from the populace. The contradiction is instructive.

On Tuesday, citizen activists got to work circulating petitions for a fifth initiative measure that would impose a two-thirds supermajority requirement on the Washington state legislature for passage of any bill that increases taxes. The same language has been placed before voters on four previous occasions since 1993, and they’ve approved it every time - most recently in 2010 by a crushing 28-point margin.

Anti-tax warriors are bringing it back again in November because, unlike other states, Washington keeps initiatives on the books for just two years before politicians are free to set aside the public will. That’s exactly what Olympia did when the clock ran out on the 2007 referendum. Without the supermajority requirement holding it in check, the legislature imposed $6.7 billion in tax hikes over 10 years, including a special levy on affordable beer that exempted the fancy microbrews and wines favored by trendy leftists. “The lesson we learned from that is you just can’t give these guys a chance to suspend the law in the third year,” initiative sponsor Tim Eyman told The Washington Times. “You just can’t allow them that window of opportunity.”

They won’t have a window this year if Mr. Eyman secures the 300,000 signatures he will need to qualify for the ballot. That shouldn’t be much of a problem, as the legislature is doing its best to help him out. Last month, the state House of Representatives began working on bills that would impose $10 billion worth of new taxes, an amount more than sufficient to emphasize the importance of acting every two years. “The farther back the vote was, the easier it is for Olympia to ignore it,” Mr. Eyman explained.

His measure is likely to be adopted again because liberals are just as tapped out in this economy as the rest of us. They feel the pinch of pumping $4.14 a gallon gas into their Toyota Priuses. They’re walloped by the cost of fair-trade coffee at Starbucks. Even Mr. Obama has expressed alarm at the price of arugula at Whole Foods lately. This explains why trendy lefty states are willing to embrace restraint on the government’s appetite for taking more of their money.

This Evergreen State story offers an important lesson for the rest of the country. Squeamish Republicans, particularly in the Senate, find the lure of compromise hard to resist. They are attracted to empty rhetoric about “balanced” approaches that involve real tax hikes and imaginary spending cuts. They ought to reject these deals with confidence, knowing voters in the most liberal of states have had enough.

The Washington Times

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