For about a decade, as a result of a ballot initiative, Washington voters have been given the opportunity to advise lawmakers, retroactively, on tax increases. Over the years, there’s been some fussing about whether the advisory ballots make much sense. Some have proposed eliminating them. But, while they don’t effect any change in statute, they do send a message.
This year, The Seattle Times editorial board thinks voters should make very clear their opposition to the state’s new capital gains tax.
A judge will decide whether the Washington Legislature’s hastily enacted capital-gains taxviolates the state constitution, but voters should signal their displeasure by encouraging lawmakers to repeal Advisory Vote No. 37.
Elected Democrats took advantage of one-party rule last spring to shoehorn this massive change into state tax code even as a bipartisan Tax Structure Work Group was studying comprehensive tax reform. They passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5096 during an unusual remote session on largely party-line votes: 25-24 in the Senate and 52-44 in the House. With some exceptions, the law imposes a 7% tax on residents’ capital-gains income over $250,000 and is expected to raise $5.7 billion in the first 10 years.
Advisory votes don’t repeal the law, but they do reveal public opinion about revenue-increasing legislation. They are an artifact of a voter initiative requiring any legislative tax or fee increases to appear on the ballot.
The least state lawmakers deserve for their premature maneuver is a collective thumbs down from the people they’re supposed to represent.
Consider it another poll.