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Originally published Friday, September 10, 2010 at 3:07 PM

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Voters should reject I-1107 and keep tax increase on candy, water and pop

The Seattle Times editorial board opposes Initiative 1107, which would repeal the recent tax increases on candy, soda pop and bottled water.

INITIATIVE 1107 would repeal the state tax increases on candy, water and soda pop. This page opposes repeal.

Last spring, we argued for a state budget without tax increases. When the Democratic majorities in Olympia signaled they would do otherwise, we suggested a package of increases that included a temporary excise tax on bottled water, but not the permanent sales tax on candy and pop. The Legislature enacted all three.

I-1107 would reverse all three. We oppose it because it does not reverse any spending. It would create a $200 million hole in the state's next two-year budget — and already that budget appears to be at least $3 billion short.

Also, on Nov. 2 voters will almost surely pass Initiative 1053, which would require a two-thirds vote of legislators, or a simple majority of the public, to raise state taxes. I-1053 will make it difficult to raise any taxes for two years. Most likely, legislators will have to find the full $3 billion in cuts.

It is enough. Let's not add to it.

The campaign for I-1107 raises questions of outside influence. The pro-1107 side has raised $14,442,392 — more than $5 for everyone in Washington likely to vote Nov. 2. Of this cash, 99.9971 percent comes from one out-of-state donor, the American Beverage Association, the trade association of the pop bottlers.

It is delightful that folks in Washington, D.C., want to spend all that money in our state, and not so delightful that they want to spend it to influence our political decisions.

There is another thing. Deep in the text of I-1107 is a provision that cuts the business and occupations tax on a few processed food items. One is canned chili with meat. The measure lowers the tax from 0.484 percent of gross revenues to 0.138 percent. This is a fraction of a cent per can, but it is worth $4 million a year to the food processors.

Why the soft-drink people included this in their initiative we do not know, unless it was so they could justify their misleading slogan, "Stop the tax hikes on food and beverages."

This is about tax increases on candy, pop and bottled water. They are annoying, but given the state's financial situation, it is better to close our eyes and swallow them.

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