Initiative hawker Tim Eyman's I-1185, which would renew the requirement that two-thirds of the state legislature vote for any tax increase, would have devastating impacts on the state's ability to create jobs, invest in health care and education, and erode public safety, a new report from the left-of-center Washington Budget and Policy Center concludes.
Caveat, though: the Policy Center's list of impacts, while undoubtedly exacerbated by the fact that legislators can't raise taxes to pay for things like health care and education without the kind of bipartisan agreement that no longer exists in Olympia, also includes cuts that could have resulted from the recession in general, when government workers in particular were most likely to lose their jobs. The report, in other words, doesn't definitively prove that the two-thirds rule led directly to the cuts it condemns.
That said, the report does include an sobering list of the cuts that have been made in the state while the two-thirds majority requirement has been in effect, including:
• The loss of more than 18,000 public-sector jobs, including health care workers, child caregivers, teachers, and parole officers.
• Cuts to jobs at private-sector nonprofits, including the 41 percent of health care nonprofits that contract with the state and have had to cut jobs since 2009.
• 66,000 residents who've lost health care as a result of cuts to state health-care services.
• And elimination of basic food assistance for 14,000 state residents.
"By giving a small handful of lawmakers de facto control of the state budget," the report concludes, "supermajority law compromises Washington state’s democratic institutions and the republican form of government they support.