The GOP-led majority in the state Senate tried and failed on Wednesday to pass a measure that would send voters a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to increase taxes.
Senate Joint Resolution 8213 got 25 votes in the Senate, which is a majority. But it takes a supermajority vote of two thirds in both the Senate and House to send a constitutional amendment to voters. Once on the ballot, it requires only a simple majority for approval.
Even if the measure had cleared the Senate, House Democrats made it clear the proposal would not get a hearing in that chamber.
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, sponsored the proposed amendment arguing it’s what voters want.
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“They want it to go to them and give them the opportunity to change the Constitution,” Roach said during debate.
Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled that requiring a two-thirds vote to pass tax increases is unconstitutional, so the only way to impose the requirement would be through a constitutional amendment.
Voters first authorized a two-thirds requirement through an initiative in 1993. They reimposed it in 1998, 2007, 2010 and reaffirmed it in 2012, at least in part because of lawmakers’ penchant for suspending the requirement to raise more revenue.
Senate Democrats opposed the measure, arguing among other things that it would allow a minority of lawmakers to dictate tax policy in the state.
“It’s easy to fight against taxes. Tax cuts are like candy in a candy store,” said Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle. “All the kids want some. And like some parents we are sometimes in the position of having to say no. I know it sounds … like we know better. Sometimes it’s leadership.”