OLYMPIA — The Washington State Attorney General’s Office will continue to defend against a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter-approved law requiring a supermajority vote by legislators to raise taxes, and voter approval of tax increases that exceed the state spending limit. King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller today ruled that Initiative1053, approved by the voters in 2010, is unconstitutional. The court held that the supermajority and voter approval provisions restrict the Legislature’s constitutional authority to raise taxes.
“We thank Superior Court Judge Heller for his thoughtful consideration of this matter,” said Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna. “However, we will appeal this decision because we believe these voter-enacted laws are constitutional, and we are determined to defend the will of the voters, just as we defend laws passed by the Legislature. Several times, voters have sent a clear and consistent message about tax increases, and it’s within their legal rights to do so.”
The court denied the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by several state legislators, the Washington Education Association (WEA) and the League of Education Voters. The Attorney General’s Office will file an appeal to the Washington State Supreme Court.
“We believe that this suit is not appropriate for judges to resolve, in part because the Legislature has not chosen to enact a tax increase by majority vote. We also believe the challenged laws are well within the authority of Washington’s citizens to enact. We’re optimistic that we and the voters will ultimately succeed,” said McKenna.
The “two-thirds requirement” was approved by voters in 1993, 1998, 2007 and 2010. The Legislature also has reenacted the two-thirds requirement and referendum provision.