THE Washington Supreme Court’s recent ruling to throw out the two-thirds-for-taxes law seemed to invigorate some Democratic leaders. No longer would tax increases need the support of two-thirds of both houses of the Legislature or a vote of the people. Tax increases, it would seem, were back on the table.
Not so fast.
Lawmakers need only look at the accompanying chart to see that their constituents will take a dim view of any tax increase without a supermajority or a vote of the people. The people did vote for that law several times — and not only in the conservative parts of the state. Most recently they voted for it everywhere outside of Seattle.
Washington has 49 legislative districts. Last November, Initiative 1185, Tim Eyman’s two-thirds-for-taxes measure, passed in 44 of them.
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It was not a matter of campaign money. There was no campaign for 1185. It was simply on the ballot. Voters had seen the same measure before and voted for it statewide by the same margins as before.
One of the reasons is that most of the state is still under a cloud that dims the economic sunshine, particularly outside the central Puget Sound cities.
In every Eastern Washington district, voters approved I-1185 by 66 percent to 75 percent. Statewide, the average was 64 percent.
It even passed in some liberal districts outside of Seattle, including the 22nd (Olympia) with 54 percent, and the 40th (San Juan Islands and nearby mainland), 55 percent.
Five Seattle districts — virtually the whole city — rejected it: the 34th, 36th, 37th, 43rd and 46th.
The 34th, which includes Vashon Island, was the weakest “no,” with 51 percent voting against. The 43rd, which includes the University District and Capitol Hill, was the strongest “no,” at 68 percent against.
Five senators and 10 representatives come from the districts that voted against Initiative 1185. All are Democrats. They include House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray, both of them from the liberal 43rd.
The other 44 senators and 88 representatives, Democrat and Republican, come from districts whose voters approved 1185.
They should remember that.