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Deadline Today for WA Initiative Requiring Voter Approval for Tax Increases

Washington state lawmakers passed 11 tax bills this session to increase the state's revenue. (Jim Bowen/Flickr)
Washington state lawmakers passed 11 tax bills this session to increase the state's revenue. (Jim Bowen/Flickr)
July 5, 2019

SEATTLE — A proposed ballot initiative that would void taxes approved by the Washington State legislature unless voters gave their stamp of approval within a year of their adoption has today to submit 260,000 valid signatures in order to get on November's ballot itself.

I-1648 targets 11 tax increases passed by lawmakers this year.

Andrew Villeneuve, head of the Northwest Progressive Institute, says eliminating this revenue from the budget would have devastating consequences for the state.

"We're talking about blowing up the state budget, and if the state budget is blown up, then there would probably need to be a special session to fix it, and either we would need to raise revenue some other way to fill in the revenue that we've lost or we would need to make drastic cuts to things that would take people by surprise," he states

The 11 bills passed by state lawmakers this year could bring in $25 billion over the next decade.

Taxes took center stage because of a finding that Washington has the most regressive tax code in the country. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, people in the top 1% pay 3% or less of their income in taxes, while those in the bottom 20% pay nearly 18%.

Initiative sponsor Tim Eyman says the tax increases this legislative session were passed at the last minute without transparency and should be approved by Washingtonians instead. Eyman is a frequent initiative sponsor and advocates for smaller government and lower taxes.

In response, Villeneuve says the state needs revenue to keep its public services running.

"That's what our team is going to be focused on over the course of the next few months is protecting the investments we have and then working to build more investments and more tax reforms so that we get Washington on a footing that it needs to be on so that our business climate continues to be strong," he states.

Sponsors of I-1648 plan to turn in signatures at 2 p.m. and rally until 5 p.m. in Olympia.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA