Taxes and Public Education

The Stranger is reporting that the Washington State Supreme Court has struck down the two-thirds supermajority requirement for taxes, 6-3.  Basically, the Constitution sets a minimum already and that's enough for the Court.  Interestingly they also said:

However, we reverse the trial court's decision that the Referendum Requirement presents a justiciable controversy. Because the Referendum Requirement is not justiciable, we make no determination as to its constitutionality.

(FYI, on "justiciable" - Essentially, justiciability in American law seeks to address whether a court possesses the ability to provide adequate resolution of the dispute; where a court feels it cannot offer such a final determination, the matter is not justiciable.  From Wiki.)

This is a relief and may help with the McCleary decision.

Update: The Times' headline on their website - "High court makes it easier for lawmakers to raise taxes."  

Seriously.  A majority is a majority.  That's how it works.


Anonymous said…
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Patrick said…
Anonymous at 12:57: Just because you can raise taxes doesn't mean we should. Maybe we should help fund some of the public education by requiring public employees to contribute mire to their pensions and benefits. I make 25% less today than 5 years ago. I'm not saying that the job is not important, but if the private sector has to with less, than public employees should also.

Anonymous, I am a public employee but not a teacher. The problem with your argument is that public salaries do not go up during boom times. In the late 1990s and early 2000s when private sector salaries were booming, we got no increases at all, and lower paychecks every year because increases in medical costs were passed on.
Anonymous said…
Additionally, state employees have seen the cost of their share of benefits go up pretty dramatically in last few years, which is essentially a pay cut. At the university where I work, the cost for everything has gone up for faculty and staff (parking and bus pass, etc.)

~state employee
A-mom said…
My husband (a state worker) had his pay cut 3% at the height of the recession. He has also taken on many more responsibilities because of a hiring freeze. Our co-pays for health insurance have also gone up significantly.
He earns approximately 25% less than someone with his qualifications in the private sector.
He works for the state because it's a union job with a pension,
hence more security now and later.
The private and public sector workers are making doing with less, but are the bankers or the corporations who pay no taxes?
Michael Rice said…
For those who think that the public sector is a gravy train and only people in the private sector work hard, I direct you to this link:
Unknown said…
From Washington State Wire:

"The state Department of Revenue says Washington ranks 36th in taxes of all states nationwide, measured as a percentage of personal income. What it means is that there are 35 other states that tax their citizens at a higher rate."

And not only that, but it's among the most regressive in the country because sales taxes have a much higher impact on low income people than they do on high-income people.

And sensible people who want to come up with solutions are hog tied because of this supermajority, which holds hostage the democratic process by a minority.

The initiative process in this state is broken. Signatures are essentially bought by people with a ton of money, and they can spend a ton of money promoting the initiative once it has the signatures. We saw it with the charter issue and we saw it with this Eyman anti-tax idiocy.

Too many of the people who vote for these initiatives don't look under the hood. They buy a paint job. We have a representative government for a reason, and we can't tie the hands of the representatives we elect. It's there job to look under the hood and try to think through all the consequences.

Initiatives should be rare and meet a far more rigorous test than the one they have now. They are not a solution to dysfunctional government; with the process we have now, they just make an admittedly bad situation even worse.
Eric B said…
There's a simple solution to the initiative mess. Ban paid signature gathering. If you can get a few tens of thousands of volunteer hours to get a few hundred thousand signatures, then your initiative belongs on the ballot. If you can't get that many people to care, then it doesn't.

I dunno if it's constitutional though.
Anonymous said…
Eric B: Washington already tried to ban paid signature gathering back in the early 90s & a federal judge struck down the law in 1994. Case was LIMIT v Maleng.

-wish we could
Life isn't easy said…
State employee complains benefit costs are going up. Try paying for your entire health care preimiums.
n said…
My problem - among others - is that it takes two-thirds to raise taxes but a simple majority to reduce or eliminate them. That's not fair. Should be simple up or down - majority wins. But the right is always trying to rig the game.
Anonymous said…
A few things:

Democracy is majority rule, majority is 51%. Super majority (2/3 majority) equals minority (35%) rules. That is no longer democracy. This is not rocket science.

Sequestration on college funding: Western WA has sent emails noting that the sequester will affect FAFSA awards. Yup, those middle and lower income kids need to carry their fair share of the tax burden!

Public sector employees (hubby works for City Light): benefits are no longer premium (and have not been for a long while); pay is not only below private sector, but also below other public utilities; job security is tenuous and structure makes it risky to take promotions (can mss up seniority). Don't blame public employees because private industry has been successful at beating down the worker to the benefit of those at the tippy-top.

Solvay Girl

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