State Supreme Court Dismisses I-960 Lawsuit

By Josh Feit March 5, 2009

State Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown's (D-3, Spokane) lawsuit against Tim Eyman's I-960—the voter-approved initiative that requires a two-thirds majority in both houses to raise taxes—was dismissed by the State Supreme Court today.

The I-960 rule has been especially relevant for legislators this session as they deal with an $8 billion shortfall for the next biennium.

I'll let the partisans duke it out about today's ruling.

Democratic blogger Andrew Villeneuve posts about it here.

And I've linked Eyman's press release below the jump.

RE: Supreme Court unanimously rejects Democrat Senator Lisa Brown's lawsuit against I-960's 2/3's for tax hikes requirement

As sponsors of Initiative 960, approved by voters in 2007, we are very pleased that the State Supreme Court unanimously agreed with us that Senator Brown's anti-taxpayer lawsuit was bogus. The voters have repeatedly expressed their support for making it tougher to raise taxes and the Court properly stayed on the sidelines in this dispute. This is a political tug-of-war between the people and the politicians and any judicial intervention would usurp the power of the people to pull the rope in favor of taxpayer protection.

Taking the lead for her Democrat colleagues, especially Governor Gregoire, Senator Lisa Brown tried to get the Court to take away critical taxpayer protections approved by the people. The state Constitution rightly protects voter-approved initiatives from legislative interference within their first two years to respect the will of the people. But because I-960's policies have been repeatedly approved by the people, and on several occasions been revalidated by the Legislature itself, I-960's policies should remain untouched for all time. There is simply no reason for Olympia to make it easier to raise taxes.

Tax increases must always be an absolute last resort and must always be put to a vote of the people for final passage. That's what the voters have said over and over and over again and our representatives should and must respect the people's decision on this.

But to put an exclamation mark on the people's previous taxpayer protection decisions, we are vigorously pursuing the qualification of this year's Initiative 1033 which protects taxpayers even more. I-1033 substantially reduces property taxes by controlling the growth of government. For decades, citizens have told their elected representatives that property taxes were out-of-control - and yet there's never been any substantive legislative action by Olympia to reduce our state's crushing property tax burden.

The Lower Property Taxes Initiative I-1033 is the initiative that our supporters have waited 10 years for us to sponsor. We are working super hard to give the voters the opportunity to vote on it this November.

Every initiative we've done since 2002 has survived court challenges - it's clear that we've learned from our earlier efforts and hired more experienced attorneys to help draft our measures. But it's also undeniable that the Court is realizing that these political disputes are best resolved legislatively, not judicially. And that's the way it should be.

We will continue to work very hard to provide the voters with more choices at the ballot box with our taxpayer protection initiatives.
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