Just in time for the start of this year’s legislative session, a new poll has come out showing voters expect the legislature to make it harder to raise taxes. This should be no surprise, given the voters passed Initiative 1366 last fall, to do just that.
According to the statewide survey by Elway Inc., “Sixty percent of voters said they want it to take a supermajority vote in the legislature to raise taxes. An even larger 65 percent said they want the legislature to send voters a constitutional amendment to implement the tax restriction policy if the state Supreme Court strikes down Initiative 1366.”
The voters’ expectations are likely to be dashed by Democrat House Speaker Frank Chopp, however, as he has shown little interest during his two-decade career in limiting the ability of legislators to pick taxpayer pockets. And, he has to stop a tax-limiting measure from coming to a vote, otherwise he would really put his shaky House majority at risk.
That’s because, according to analysis by the Washington Policy Center Jason Mercier, “voters in 69% of Washington’s legislative districts (34 of 49) approved I-1366 (supermajority for taxes).” Which raises the question, which Democrat House members would be at risk of having to vote against their own constituents’ vote on taxes?
In turns out that, according to the election results compiled by the Secretary of State’s Office, every one of the representatives from the 15 districts which voted against making it harder to raise taxes is a Democrat. They certainly represent their constituents! However, there are 20 Democrat House members who represent districts which supported I-1366. It’s from among this pool of 20 that Speaker Chopp has to protect his majority by keeping a vote from happening.
Now, in eight districts which supported I-1366 (the 3rd, 11th, 19th, 24th, 29th, 33rd, 38th, and 49th), both of the representatives are Democrats, so the voters seem somewhat confused already. However, in four other districts there are House Democrats who are campaign targets if they were to vote against a tax-limiting measure – because, after all, the district already is already voting for one House Republican, so why not two?
Those four Democrats already squirming over the prospect of such a vote include Christine Kilduff (28th District, in Pierce County), Christ Hurst (31st District, straddling King and Pierce County), Hans Dunshee (44th District in Snohomish County) and Democrat House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (47th District, King County).
The session starts next Monday – let the fun begin.