Rivers endorses measure that would let voters add taxpayer-protection standard to state constitution

Sen. Ann Rivers today voted for a proposal that would let Washington voters add to the state constitution a taxpayer-protection standard overturned earlier in the day by a state Supreme Court ruling.Sen. Ann Rivers, R-18

“The court made it clear that the only way to make this requirement constitutional is for the Legislature and the voters to make it part of the state constitution. My vote today helped set the stage for this to be considered by the full Senate, probably next week,” said Rivers, R-La Center.

Rivers voted for Senate Joint Resolution 8205 on Feb. 19 when it came before the Senate Governmental Operations Committee, on which she serves. She voted again for it today as a member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee because the measure has to do with taxes.

SJR 8205 would amend the state constitution so that approving a tax increase would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. It’s the same two-thirds standard contained in Initiative 1053, passed in 2010, which was struck down today by a majority of the state’s high court.

Rivers noted that in November an identically-worded measure, Initiative 1185, received a 72 percent “yes” vote in the 18th Legislative District she represents.

“It’s clear that a strong majority of the people I represent want it to be more difficult for the Legislature to raise taxes than to pass other legislation; I-1185 was the fifth measure of this sort to be approved by the voters in the past 20 years, and each time the standard has either been undone by the Legislature or, this time, by the courts.

“It’s time to let the voters decide if they want to put the two-thirds tax-vote rule into the constitution, where it will be out of the reach of the justices and legislators who look to raise taxes before considering other options,” Rivers said.

A constitutional amendment must be endorsed by two-thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives before it can be added to the following November’s general-election ballot. That’s 33 votes in the Senate. Rivers said I-1185 passed in 44 of the state’s 49 legislative districts, meaning 44 senators have reason to make sure SJR 8205 passes and goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

“This shouldn’t be a partisan matter at all – an overwhelming majority in the Senate and House would be upholding the will of their constituents by voting for this measure,” Rivers said.

“Let’s remember that the action the court took today makes it possible for the Legislature to raise taxes with a majority vote,” she added. “In that light it’s good that the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus is leading the Senate – we believe state government can and should live within its means. Tax increases should be the last resort, and a constitutional change to make tax hikes more difficult is the protection our taxpayers deserve.”