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State Senate holds line on no new taxes | Sen. Roach
Citizens of Washington do not want their taxes raised.
That message has been driven home time and again. Yet, the demand for new taxes by Democrat leaders in the Legislature forced us into a special session.
Washington voters have been consistent in their opposition to new taxes. It's not a matter of legislators not understanding the will of the people. The problem is that they don't want to be constrained by voters when it comes to getting into our wallets.
It is easy to know the voters don't want new taxes. We know it from talking to voters, and we know it from polling. We also know it because last November, voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 1185, which required a two-thirds majority vote for the Legislature to raise taxes.
There are 49 legislative districts in this state. Out of those 49 districts, only five – all located in the heart of Seattle – did not vote for I-1185. The people clearly want a smaller, leaner government. The State Supreme Court later invalidated the will of the people, saying a two-thirds requirement is unconstitutional, but the mandate of tax restraint remains.
In recent years, voters approved several other initiatives just like I-1185 only to have the Legislature invalidate them. And, in 2011, voters also struck down a state income-tax proposal and a candy-soda tax that had been already been approved by a politically tone-deaf Legislature.
Could the voters have been more clear?
Those of us in the Senate Majority Caucus (23 Republicans and two Democrats), are listening to the voters. We approved, with bipartisan support, a budget that is balanced and that does not increase taxes. We've been very straightforward with the people of our state. The SMC did the job the people wanted. We balanced a budget, funded education, and pushed reforms aimed at reducing costs.
We could have avoided a costly, redundant, special session if the governor and the House majority not been insisting on a budget with $1.2 billion worth of tax hikes.
Our Senate budget fits Washington's needs well. The budget:
• Includes no new taxes
• Increases education funding by more than 10 percent
• Holds down the growth of the rest of state spending by less than inflation
• Preserves the rainy day fund
• Enacts substantial policy reforms.
Now that the special legislative session has begun, we Republicans are standing our ground and holding the line on a budget that lives within its means. We hope the governor and the House majority will stop insisting on new taxes and start negotiating in earnest with the Senate so we can have a budget that reflects the will of the people who put us in office.
Sen. Pam Roach (R-rural Auburn) represents the 31st Legislative District and is chair of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee.