15th District legislators oppose overturning Taxpayer Protection Act
Late into the night yesterday, the state House of Representatives voted to suspend voter-approved Initiative 960, also known as the Taxpayer Protection Act. Reps. Bruce Chandler and David Taylor fought long and hard against the measure to overturn the people's will.
In 2007, voters approved Initiative 960, by 57 percent in the 15th District. The initiative:
- requires public notifications and 10-year cost projections when bills are introduced, heard and passed which increase taxes or fees;
- enforces and clarifies a two-thirds majority vote requirement of the Legislature, or a vote of the people, on tax increases;
- requires notice to voters in the voters' pamphlet regarding actions by the Legislature that raise taxes; and
- requires an advisory vote from the public when taxes are increased.
If the governor signs Senate Bill 6130, the second, third and fourth parts of the initiative listed above would become null immediately.
“Transparency and accountability are essential traditions of this institution. The folks we work for want to know what's going on. They want the facts, and too often they feel like they haven't gotten them. Undoing the Taxpayer Protection Act will inevitably arouse suspicion,” said Chandler, R-Granger. “Voting to have a less open process will force people to naturally ask what we are trying to hide. It will take a long time to undo the damage of that perception.”
As the debate concluded, Taylor said instead of pursuing tax increases, the majority party should be focusing on ways to revitalize the economy, create jobs and make Washington a better place to do business.
“This bill will do nothing to increase employment opportunities in the four counties I represent. With more than 7,000 people out of work in the 15th District, I believe it may actually take away employment opportunities,” Taylor said. “How can we ask people who have lost their jobs, who are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table, to pay more taxes? It's unconscionable.”
The 15th District representatives raised concern that taxes were the first option to close a projected $2.8 billion shortfall, rather than the last option. No new budget reductions have been passed by the House, while 77 tax and fee increase bills were proposed as of this week, totaling $3 billion in new state and local taxes or fees for the 2011 fiscal year.
“What people really want is value. Every community in this state supports taxes when they see the real value. By repealing the Taxpayer Protection Act, we are only convincing them we can't prove value for their dollars,” Chandler said. “We are setting ourselves down a course which will be difficult to redeem our credibility as representatives of the people. The people we work for deserve to have the opportunity for a better future, not one filled with fear and instability. This measure opens the door to tax increases which will only deepen our economic downturn.”
Taylor said Senate Bill 6130 is a reflection of failed policies, a lack of fiscal discipline, and years of missed opportunities.
“Why in the world are we even discussing tax increases?” asked Taylor, R-Moxee. “The reason is the Legislature has failed to demonstrate the leadership that's needed to curtail spending, make government more efficient, and to live within its means. That's why the voters took matters into their own hands and passed Initiative 960. They wanted fiscal restraint and accountability, and they have every right to expect it. Raising taxes is the wrong approach, and it spells more bad news for Washington's families and employers.”
The House passed SB 6130 on a vote of 51-47. It now goes back to the Senate for further consideration of a House amendment, where final passage is expected this week.
###Washington State House Republican Communications