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Government and Politics
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Two-Thirds For Tax Hikes Constitutional Amendment Falls Short

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Austin Jenkins
/
Northwest News Network
Washington state Senators watch their screens as the vote tally come in on a proposed constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote for tax hikes. The measure fell short of the 33 votes it needed to advance.

Should Washington’s Constitution be amended to require a two-thirds vote for tax hikes? The Republican-led state Senate voted “yes” to that Friday. But supporters failed to muster the supermajority vote required to send the question to voters.

Republican budget writer Andy Hill of Redmond made the case for the higher threshold.

“I think it forces everybody to come together and make sure that when we do raise a tax it’s for a very, very good reason,” Hill said.

Democrat Reuven Carlyle of Seattle opposed the constitutional amendment.

“Supermajority empowers the minority of 17 to control one-half of the entire ledger of how the people’s money flows,” Carlyle said.

The mostly party-line vote was 26 to 23 to approve the constitutional amendment. It needed 33 votes to pass.

Last November, Washington voters approved a tax-limiting initiative that cuts the sales tax unless the legislature sends a two-thirds constitutional amendment to voters. Initiative 1366 is now the subject of a state Supreme Court challenge. Oral arguments are scheduled for next month.