Editorial: Two-thirds tax law overruled, but sentiment remains
Legislators and Gov. Jay Inslee should think twice before rushing to increase taxes.
Seattle Times Editorial
THE Washington Supreme Court’s two-thirds-for-taxes decision came down to a sentence in the state constitution. The language was just fuzzy enough for the court to go either way.
The nine justices did what they always do. They voted. Three wanted the law to stand and six wanted it to fall. Theirs was a legal decision — and a political one.
Justice Jim Johnson, who was on the losing side, noted that the six who struck down the law — Justices Susan Owens, Barbara Madsen, Mary Fairhurst, Charles Wiggins and Steven González and Justice pro tem Tom Chambers — overruled 1,575,655 Washington voters.
The justices can do that. The law is erased. The sentiment behind it, however, is very much alive.
In the past 20 years, the people of Washington have voted numerous times for a two-thirds-for-taxes law, most recently last November, when the people passed Initiative 1185 by a 64 percent majority. The initiative passed in all 39 counties and in every legislative district outside the city of Seattle.
The six justices ignored that sentiment. That is within their power, though they face voters every six years, and might come to regret what they did.
Senators face voters every four years and representatives face voters every two years. Seattle Democrats probably need not worry about voting for tax increases, but the rest of the Democratic caucus needs to think about it.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who is just beginning his four-year term, said repeatedly during the campaign that he was against tax increases. He said he would veto them. It was not what much of his party wanted him to say, but it was what he had to say to get elected.
Our new governor should not forget his promise.
The law is changed but the political feelings of the people are not.