Without tax limits, what's to stop state spending? | Editorial

In case you've ever wondered – no, they don't know what they're doing in Olympia.

Well, Senate Democrats, at least.

Fresh after voting to gut Initiative 960 and its tax-limiting provisions, the Senate Ds were back again. Seems they gutted the wrong version of the bill, Senate Bill 6130. Their first attempt merely sliced open the law. What they really wanted to do was scatter the entrails so that it will be hard to put the bill back together. The second time was the charm, so to speak.

With their handy-work Wednesday, Feb. 10, the Senate even eliminated the requirement for a public "advisory" vote on tax increases that lawmakers deem necessary. Guess they don't need no stinkin' voters telling the the Legislature what they think.

When voters approved I-960 they did so with good reason. It requires the Legislature to pass any tax increase with a two-thirds vote of members. Democrats have a majority in the House and Senate. They don't have a supermajority.

Now, well, never mind.

Yes, the state faces some very difficult financial decisions because of the sour economy. The projected deficit is a $2.8 billion. No one disputes that. But without any control on raising taxes, how much effort with the Legislature make to cut spending and re-arrange priorities? Not much, we think.

When special interests or state employees are told they have to take come cuts to help balance the budget, what do you think they'll say? Raise taxes, of course. And what can the Democrats do – especially if they wish to get re-elected? Why raise taxes, of course.

The changes to I-960 must get the OK of the House and then signed into law by Gov. Chris Gregoire before lawmakers can move ahead with tax-raising votes. Consider that a slam dunk. The Democrats control the Senate with 31 seats. Republicans have the other 18 seats. In the House, Democrats control 61 seats. Republicans have 36 seats.

The voters in the state aren't entirely left without a say. Half of the Senate and all of the House is up for re-election in November.

- Craig Groshart, for the Bellevue Reporter

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