A loss of $8 billion over six years would be catastrophic to Washington state.

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IN late 1889, Washington held its last election as a territory, voting overwhelmingly to ratify a new constitution. Our forebears understood that for Washington to endure, it needed a constitution that protected individual liberty and balanced majority rule with minority rights.

It is this thoughtfully balanced plan of government Tim Eyman seeks to sabotage with Initiative 1366, which would wipe out $8 billion over six years if our elected representatives refuse to subvert our constitution’s abiding requirement that all legislation pass by majority vote.

Beginning April 15, 2016, I-1366 would cut the state sales-tax rate from 6.5 to 5.5 percent unless the Legislature bows to the will of Eyman’s wealthy benefactors and sends to the ballot a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote of the state House and Senate to raise any tax or repeal any tax exemption.

I-1366 represents a false choice that would drag Washington backward. Democrats and Republicans alike agree that we need to be investing in our kids’ future by fulfilling our state’s paramount duty — to amply provide for the education of all young Washingtonians. But I-1366 would make that all but impossible, either forcing massive cuts to essential public services, or permanently locking into place our state’s broken, regressive tax code, leaving our schools underfunded indefinitely.

The loss of $8 billion over six years would be catastrophic to our communities. Bipartisan gains in K-12 school funding would be gutted. The recent cut to college tuition would be reversed, and health and human services would be eviscerated. Grants to local governments for police and fire protection would be cut, making our neighborhoods less safe.

These threatened cuts are Eyman’s leverage. His real goal with I-1366 is to coerce our elected representatives into violating Washington’s values by vandalizing the constitution’s Article II, Section 22, which dates back to statehood. It reads, in part: “No bill shall become a law unless … a majority of the members elected to each house be recorded thereon as voting in its favor.”

Article II, Section 22 applies to all bills. In the state House, it takes 50 of 98 elected representatives to pass legislation; in the Senate, it takes 25 of 49 elected senators. Eyman doesn’t like the idea that a majority of our elected representatives can raise or recover revenue for our state as our founders intended. He wants to transfer power over such decisions from the many to the few by requiring a two-thirds vote. Under Eyman’s rules, as few as 17 of our state’s 147 lawmakers could block majorities from funding schools, fixing our roads or improving care for the mentally ill. One faction of one party in one house would be able to dictate Washington’s future.

Ironically, our constitution can only be changed with a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. It cannot be changed by initiative. That’s by design: If our plan of government could be easily altered, militant firebrands like Tim Eyman would be constantly trying to mess with it.

Our constitution has served us well for more than 125 years. But it can’t protect itself. That’s why a bipartisan coalition has joined forces to send I-1366 to the political graveyard it belongs in.

By Nov. 3, join AARP Washington, the League of Women Voters, the Children’s Alliance, the Mainstream Republicans and the Washington state Democrats in voting no on I-1366.