Opinion editorial by Rep. Matt Manweller: Supreme Court decision hurts Washington taxpayers
Last Thursday was a bad day for Washington. It was a worse day for Washington taxpayers. The Washington State Supreme Court struck down the requirement that the Legislature pass new tax increases only if it has a two-thirds majority. What does all this mean for the average person in our state? It means higher taxes, less bipartisanship and fewer jobs. The two-thirds requirement has been the one provision in our state laws that prevented a Seattle majority from imposing higher taxes at will. Under the two-thirds requirement, minority Republicans in either the House or the Senate could stop tax increases, but that check has been eliminated by a state Supreme Court dismissive of the people's will. It means less bipartisanship because now majority Democrats don't need to negotiate with minority Republicans. In the past, Democrats needed to work with Republicans if they were ever going to get 66 percent of the vote. Now, Democrats have all the votes they need on their side of the aisle. The need for compromise and discussion are gone. And it means fewer jobs. Business owners and entrepreneurs need a stable economic environment. They need to know what the horizon holds before they invest, hire and grow. But the Supreme Court's rejection of the two-thirds rule has introduced massive uncertainty into the economic environment. Will taxes go up? If so, how much? Who will be taxed and who will be spared? No one will invest in jobs with that type of uncertainty. I am deeply disappointed the court has thrown out the two-thirds requirement because the people of Washington have repeatedly voted to enact this policy. With five separate initiatives, the people of Washington have made it clear that they want bipartisan supermajorities before their Legislature raises taxes. Unfortunately, an increasingly arrogant Supreme Court has ignored the will of the people and a long-standing legal tradition. It has long been the purview of the “people's house” to make decisions about taxation. Now, six members of an isolated court have made those decisions for all of us. As a result of this decision, I am supporting a constitutional amendment reinstating the two-thirds majority rule and overturning this unfortunate legal decision. Article I of our state constitution states that “all political power is inherent in the people.” It is now time to remind the Supreme Court of the first article of the constitution. We need the people to rise up and make sure their voices are heard above the Seattle dominated interest groups that want to take money out of your wallet and give it to their cronies. For the last 20 years we have had a system that works. We need to get that system back.
Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, is serving his first-term in the Washington State House of Representatives. He is the ranking Republican member on the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee.