I-1366 Qualifies: Cuts sales tax if lawmakers don’t refer supermajority for taxes to ballot

UPDATE: Lawsuit filed to block it from the ballot.

The Secretary of State has determined that Initiative 1366 received enough valid signatures to appear on the November ballot. As the Seattle Times reports,

Initiative 1366 would cut the state’s 6.5-cent sales tax by a penny unless the Legislature sends a tax-limiting constitutional amendment to the ballot for a public vote next year.

That amendment would reinstate a two-thirds supermajority vote requirement for the Legislature to pass any tax increases without a public vote. A simple majority of lawmakers would suffice to pass tax increases sent to the ballot for voters to approve or reject.

The supermajority rule has been endorsed by Washington voters in five previous initiative votes. But the state Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional in 2013.

The Office of Financial Management published a fiscal impact statement on the initiative. OFM’s summary:

If the Legislature does not refer a constitutional amendment to voters for consideration at the November 2016 general election, over the next six fiscal years, sales tax revenue for the state General Fund would decrease $8 billion. Sales tax revenue for the state Performance Audit Account would decrease $12.8 million. State business and occupation (B&O) tax revenue would increase $39.9 million. Local tax revenue would increase $226.1 million. State expenditures would be $598,000. If an amendment is referred to voters, fiscal year 2017 state election expenditures would increase $101,000. There would be an unknown increase in local government election expenditures.

Sponsor Tim Eyman is apparently banking on the idea that the potential loss of that much money will leave lawmakers no choice but to put the amendment on the ballot. To refer a constitutional amendment to the voters, lawmakers will have to muster a two-thirds supermajority voter in each chamber.