State Senator Don Benton, 17th Legislative District has issued a Press Release announcing he will submit a constitutional amendment based on the Initiative 1185 law approved in November’s general election, voters 5th time saying we want a 2/3 majority requirement to raise our taxes.
For Release For Interviews Contact:
Jan. 4, 2013 Sen. Don Benton (360) 786-7632
Let people decide whether to make 2/3 tax-vote rule permanent, says Benton
Clark County’s senior legislator will propose constitutional amendment based on Initiative 1185
OLYMPIA…Sen. Don Benton says it’s time to let Washington voters decide whether the higher legal threshold for approving tax increases also belongs in the state constitution.
When the 2013 legislative session convenes in 10 days the veteran 17th Legislative District lawmaker plans to submit a constitutional amendment based on the Initiative 1185 law approved in November’s general election. That law requires a two-thirds vote by the Legislature to approve tax increases, rather than a simple-majority vote. The higher standard dates to 1993 and also was endorsed by voters in 2007 and 2010.
“Four times now, most recently in November, the people have said ‘yes’ to requiring a two-thirds vote in Olympia on tax increases. I want them to have the opportunity to make that requirement permanent, by placing it in the state constitution,” said Benton, R-Vancouver.
The difference, he explained, is that the constitution may be changed only by a vote of the people, while the I-1185 law and other laws created through citizen initiatives may be changed through a simple-majority vote of the Legislature after just two years. Benton’s proposal would prevent a repeat of 2010, when a simple majority of lawmakers suspended the two-thirds tax-vote law – then three years old, having been created in 2007 by Initiative 960 – to enable approval of a massive tax increase.
Noting how I-1185 received a 64 percent “yes” vote statewide and received majority support in all 39 counties, Benton senses public opinion is strong enough for his approach to receive serious consideration from fellow lawmakers.
“By now, if you look at the latest election results, it’s safe to say the two-thirds tax-vote rule has become a non-partisan issue. There’s support for it throughout our state, not just in areas such as the 17th District, where I-1185 passed overwhelmingly,” Benton said. “The Legislature can ignore that, or it can put an amendment on next November’s ballot and let the people have their say.”
In addition to being deputy Senate Republican leader, Benton is a member of the new Majority Coalition Caucus that will set the agenda in the Senate this year. He believes a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds legislative vote on taxes is in line with the coalition’s first guiding principle: to craft a sustainable state budget and live within the state’s means.
Benton also plans to introduce a measure aimed at increasing the security of Washington driver’s licenses, by requiring proof that a license applicant is lawfully present in the state.
“I’m going into the 2013 session focused on what our majority coalition agrees are the big things: a sustainable budget, economic recovery, a world-class education system, and protecting our most vulnerable residents,” Benton said. “However, our list also includes a commitment to hold state government accountable. When it comes to the security of driver’s licenses, which are among the most important documents issued by state government, Washington is at the bottom of the list of states. It’s a long-overdue change but one that I, as incoming vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, am ready to advocate.”
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Additional Contact: Eric Campbell (360) 786-7503 or Eric.Campbell@leg.wa.gov
Please visit Sen. Benton’s Web site: www.senaterepublicans.wa.gov/benton
Voters have repeatedly stated we want a 2/3 majority vote in the legislature in order to raise our taxes. The Democrat majority has repeatedly ignored our votes nd bypassed or set aside citizen initiatives as soon as they could.
49th Legislative District Representative Jim Moeller, one of the louder critics of the voters demand has opposed voters wishes and is even a part of lawsuit launched early last year to invalidate our votes calling on a 2/3 majority. He undoubtedly will not be pleased with Benton’s intent, even though it has been Moeller saying it would require a constitutional amendment to require a 2/3 vote in the legislature to raise taxes.
I suspect he will join other Democrats in the House fighting to prevent such a constitutional amendment.
It is actions as this by Senator Benton that made his reelection to the State Senate so important.