BRAD TOFT, the Republican candidate for the State’s Fifth Legislative District Senate seat, wrote a recent Patch blog post concerning Washington residents’ desire for a bipartisan approach to budgetary tax reform. The “bipartisan” approach Mr. Toft proposes, however, is to vest our State’s ability to generate tax revenue in a minority of state representatives. Mr. Toft’s approach is not “bipartisan.”
More specifically, in his blog post, Mr. Toft argues that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1053 – which mandates that any new tax revenue must be approved by 2/3 of the State Legislature – should be memorialized by a State Constitutional Amendment. Mr. Toft’s position is likely in reaction to King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller’s May 30, 2012 ruling that Eyman’s two-thirds vote requirement under I-1053 was unconstitutional.
Mr. Toft incorrectly contends that requiring a Supermajority to legislatively generate income makes for sound fiscal policy and is bipartisan. Without offering any factual support, Mr. Toft argues that the Supermajority promotes healthy long-term financial planning.
I disagree that granting a few legislators control of our tax policy is anything but obstructionist and emphatically disagree that it begets lasting economic stability. Our state Legislature needs to be enabled – not disempowered – to make fiscal decisions, including making decision to generate tax revenue for things like education. Allowing a simple majority (51%) of our Legislature to make tax decisions is the bipartisan approach we need and is also the available option best suited to create fair and democratic representation in Washington.
But on this tax issue, Mr. Toft urges an undemocratic Supermajority requirement – which largely benefits the Republican Party – that handcuffs our Legislature to the whims of a small few. In that regard, whether the Democrats have maintained a majority in Olympia is entirely irrelevant when it comes to tax reform because tax decisions have been in the hands of Olympia’s minority, i.e., the Republicans.
For that reason, Mr. Toft is equally wrong when he says that our fiscal problems are not caused by gridlock. To the contrary: it is the Republican Party’s abject refusal to compromise on tax issues that stops the forward progress our State needs in its tracks.
It is an unpleasent truth for many of us, myself included, but it is real nonetheless: our State needs to generate tax revenue. And “In this world,” where according to Mr. Franklin, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” Mr. Toft appears unwilling to adopt a responsible, nuanced approach to tax reform, and instead seems happy to Stand on Principle and thus doom our State’s budget to its death.
Trent Latta is an attorney and Patch Local Voices contributor who may be contacted at TrentLatta@gmail.com.