Outcomes were definitely mixed on Tuesday for those who care about economic growth and efficient government. Republicans did capture complete control in D.C. (except for that oft-pesky 60-vote filibuster reality in the U.S. Senate), but in this state (as we pointed out Wednesday) the largely status quo results meant we barely hung on to a Majority Coalition Caucus in the State Senate to keep the (unfortunately) re-elected Governor Jay Inslee from running amok.
However, as we delve a little deeper into the lessons learned from the election, more silver linings appear. So, today we look at how the voters dealt with a few key tax-raising initiatives that would have harmed our state’s economy in the name of liberal government activism.
First, no review of voter-approved tax policy would be complete without acknowledging the damage that King County voters did by passing Sound Transit 3, the $54-billion light rail program that will not help reduce congestion in the central Puget Sound region. The never-ending taxes that transit bureaucrats (and the liberal politicians who love them) will control will likely crowd out other priorities for decades to come, for a fixed-route system that may be as obsolete as the Kingdome by the time it is scheduled to be finished in 2041
And we deliberately put the blame on King County voters – and may well narrow that to Seattle-only voters once those results are available – as the Sound Transit voters in Pierce and Snohomish County are rejecting the ST3 boondoggle by over 20,000 votes so far. Unfortunately, it has a 99,000 vote advantage in King County, so we’re stuck with it.
However, the tax-lovers in Seattle were not able to lift two other initiatives which were subject to voters across the state instead of just three counties. First, the carbon tax in Initiative 732 fared miserably, and is currently down by over 400,000 votes, failing 59-41%. It passed only in ultra-liberal (and thankfully small) San Juan County and King (though will less than 52%).
Second, the truly bad policy that was Initiative 1464, the “public money for politicians” measure, is likewise going down in 37 of 39 counties, supported only by the San Juan-Seattle comrade coalition. This measure would have raised taxes on border communities especially, by eliminating a tax break for out-of-state shoppers.
That liberal voters who were otherwise overwhelmingly supporting a tax-loving Governor like Inslee and U.S. Senator in Patty Murray would turn solidly against I-732 and I-1464 is perhaps a sign that taxes for taxes’ sake is not an electoral winner in Washington State.
Additionally, the apparent failure of the City of Olympia’s income tax initiative might make it a little harder for Inslee to push his capital gains income tax next year. When an income tax can’t even get to 47% in a liberal city like Olympia, there is hope.
As the Washington Policy Center Points out an income tax has lost the last 10 times its been on a Washington ballot. One can only hope that Democrats are listening.