By rejecting a carbon fee and limiting local option taxes, Washington voters displayed the same revenue-raising reticence as voters across the nation. Governing magazine reports,
With a few exceptions, voters across the country on Election Day approved statewide proposals to reduce or limit taxes while also widely rejecting any efforts to raise them…
Three out of four states voted to restrict tax policy. In Florida, voters enacted a two-thirds legislative supermajority requirement to pass a tax increase. Arizona voters favored a new ban on taxing services. And North Carolinans opted to lower that state’s income tax rate cap.
Measures that limit lawmakers’ taxing authority have a mixed track record. “These measures happen in waves,” says Wake Forest University political professor John Dinan. “You might say there’s a bit of a resurgence in their success judging by Tuesday’s results.”
Oddly, the article fails to mention this state’s rejection of I-1631 (possibly, Governing bought the idea that the fee really wasn’t the same thing as a tax). The reporter does mention that Oregon defeated a tax limiting measure and a ban on new grocery taxes. As well, the report points out a number of local tax increases received voter approval. We’d add to Seattle’s education levy to the list.
The Washington Post also takes note of Tuesday’s tax-averse electorate.
Voters in five states rejected tax increases or approved restrictions on future tax hikes Tuesday, in a series of blows to liberal efforts to raise revenue to fund new social spending programs.
The tax rejections spanned the partisan spectrum.
“Voters were not interested in raising income taxes, and that was true in red, blue and purple states,” said Jared Walczak, senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank. “Voters like to keep income taxes pretty modest, and they need a very compelling reason to support raising them. Apparently they didn’t see that last night.”
Governing magazine also quoted Walczak on California votes on issues also familiar to Washington voters.
In San Francisco, voters approved Proposition C, a controversial measure that will increase a gross receipts tax on the city’s largest companies to help fund homelessness initiatives.
Down the peninsula, Mountain View, home to Google, approved a so-called head tax on companies to raise money for transportation and affordable housing. Earlier this year, the Seattle City Council passed and then rescinded a head tax after threats from Amazon that the company would move jobs elsewhere.
Jared Walczak of the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation says such taxes can backfire. “Tech jobs in particular are highly mobile,” he says, “so that makes it relatively easy to push those jobs out of the area.”
The Tax Foundation provides a full wrap-up of votes on state tax ballot initiatives.