A vote for what you think of tax hikes | COMMENTARY

“[Voters] will get… an opportunity to say whether they think lawmakers did the right thing. Or not.”

  • Sunday, August 13, 2017 8:00am
  • Opinion

Voters never got a chance to try to overturn new laws increasing the state property tax next year and imposing a sales tax on bottled water last week.

Instead, what they will get this November is an opportunity to say whether they think lawmakers did the right thing. Or not.

These laws will be the subject of separate advisory measures on the general election ballot.

If you recall, these are nonbinding on legislators. They’ll be on the ballot courtesy of a provision in Initiative 960 dreamed up by Tim Eyman of Mukilteo and passed by voters in 2007. It says if lawmakers approve a tax increase without putting it to a vote then the electorate gets to offer its opinion after the fact.

These measures first showed up statewide in 2012. This year’s offerings are the 16th, 17th and 18th.

“I call this the tax increase report card,” Eyman said. “It’s a way to find out what people think.”

In 2015, nearly two-thirds gave a thumbs-down to the big gas tax increase lawmakers passed to fund road improvements. But 59 percent gave a thumbs-up to new marijuana taxes and a slim 51.3 percent backed a boost in the tax per barrel of oil to pay for added safety measures related to oil trains.

Eyman’s critics call the advisory measures a waste of time and money. It will cost a small pile of tax dollars for the Secretary of State’s Office to produce material on the measures for voter pamphlets and to mail those pamphlets to every registered voter in Washington.

Eyman calls it a small price to pay to learn how folks feel about billions of dollars in tax increases.

This year is extraordinary as voters will get a shot at embracing or rejecting the financing approach lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee agreed upon to satisfy a state Supreme Court ruling on school funding.

One advisory measure concerns House Bill 2242 which is the blueprint for complying with the mandates in the McCleary case. The 120-page bill lays out how the state intends to amply fund public schools, reform the use of local property tax levies by school districts and absorb the responsibility of paying classroom teachers.

It calls for pushing the statewide property tax up to a flat rate of $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value, about 81 cents higher than this year’s rate. This will bring in roughly $1.6 billion in this two-year budget cycle and $13 billion over 10 years, all for schools.

Another advisory measure concerns House Bill 2163, a collection of tax changes affecting online retailers, bottled water buyers and fuel producers. It is projected to generate $73 million for this budget and $565 million over 10 years.

For each measure, voters will be asked if they would repeal or maintain the increase.

While most folks dislike taxes, the advice coming from voters this fall may not be as predictable as one might think.

Results of an Elway Poll released last week found slight support among voters right now for the property tax increase and other big pieces of the education funding blueprint.

If the results of the advisory vote reveal opposition to either or both taxes, Eyman is convinced it would deter legislators from tinkering with any new taxes next year.

And Eyman argued it could even help Inslee as well. He pointed out that the governor recently told newspaper reporter Melissa Santos that if Democrats pick up an open Senate seat this fall and recapture control of the Legislature, he’d like to roll back some of the increase.

“If the advisory vote ends up going against (the property tax), it’s certainly going to give him some fodder for what he’s talking about,” Eyman said of Inslee.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Stopping COVID is now up to each of us

With a resurgence threatening, we need to take greater responsibility to keep the virus in check.

Doreen Davis, left in mask, waves at parade participants on May 2. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo
Wear your face-hugging, ever-loving mask | Editorial

“Don’t make me come down there.” — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo,… Continue reading

Valley police chiefs of King County release unified message in response to death of George Floyd

Police chiefs of Des Moines, Tukwila, Renton, Federal Way, Kent, Auburn, Algona, Pacific, Black Diamond and the Port of Seattle pledge to stand with communities.

Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial

When enjoying the great outdoors, continue to socially distance and be aware of how else COVID-19 has changed our world.

KCLS is stepping up its commitment to patrons

KCLS has expanding its online resources so patrons can continue to learn, build skills, stay entertained and remain mentally and physically active amid the pandemic.

Ardra Arwin.
‘Let’s not go out and play!’

A poem by Renton resident Ardra Arwin, age 8

How using a face mask to cover my Asian face could put me in danger

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted.

Opinion: Public deserves honest information on sex education

The Washington comprehensive sex education bill passed in the Senate on March 7.

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo
Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

Catch each other during this fall

How we can use the quarantine to reflect on necessary social changes

To our elected officials: Be bold, be consistent, be honest, be helpful

By Patrick Grubb, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Governor Jay Inslee has been… Continue reading

Letters to the editor for the week of March 13

Reader worries about the county’s reach Dear editor, The article regarding King… Continue reading