Eyman tax initiative passing and headed to court

by: Essex Porter Updated:

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Opponents say the success of Initiative 1366 could take $1.4 billion from classroom education. And they are already preparing a lawsuit to stop it.

But asked if he’s worried about defending it in court, initiative sponsor Tim Eyman responded, “Actually, we really did our homework, we really did. We spent two and a half years researching what the voters can do and what they can't do.”

What voters are apparently approving is a new demand for all tax increases to require a 2/3rd's vote of the Legislature. Something the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled requires a constitutional amendment.

To get a constitutional amendment in Washington requires 2/3 of the state House and Senate to agree to put in on the ballot, then a majority of voters have to say “yes”.

Initiative 1366 says the Legislature must act by next April 15 or the state sales tax will be cut by a penny -- slashing $1.4 billion in revenue from the next state budget.

Eyman likens it to parenting his teenage son.

“Whenever I say take out the garbage or I'm going to take your Xbox away, he takes the garbage out,” said Eyman.

But opponents believe they can beat 1366 in court. They say initiatives have no power to force the Legislature to enact a constitutional amendment. And that it violates the requirement that initiatives focus on just one subject.

“This is a bit of a toxic soup of a vendettas and blackmail and all sorts of things. Unfortunately we weren't able to communicate that to voters well enough but we think we have strong legal arguments.”

Initiative 1366 is passing despite the fact that Eyman is under investigation for campaign finance violations involving previous initiatives.

He says that's proof that voters are focused on their taxes not him.