Nearly three months after last hearing arguments in the case, a judge ruled Wednesday that Tim Eyman's Initiative 1053, approved by voters in 2010 and requiring a two-thirds majority in the legislature to raise taxes, is unconstitutional. The court decided the supermajority and voter approval provisions in I-1053 restrict the Legislature's constitutional authority to raise taxes.
While the ruling no doubt feels like a victory for opponents of I-1053, not to mention the many who loathe Eyman and his tax-limiting initiatives, this probably won't be the last we hear of it. Not only is Eyman currently working on Initiative 1185, an effort he's dubbed "The Son of I-1053," - which is basically a renewal of the original - but State Attorney General Rob McKenna announced yesterday that his office, tasked with representing the voters of Washington (as he reminds us), will appeal yesterday's court ruling to the Washington Supreme Court.
"We thank Superior Court Judge Heller for his thoughtful consideration of this matter," said McKenna via press release. "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."
"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," McKenna continues, chest puffed. "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."
For his part, and ever distrustful of the Legislature, Eyman seems to have already moved on from I-1053 - which is the impetus for this year's efforts with I-1185.
"Today's ruling throws gasoline on the fire of enthusiasm for Initiative 1185 'Son of 1053," Eyman proclaimed via press release. "When the voters demand a policy and approve it again (1993) and again (1998) and again (2007) and again (2010) and again (2012), it will be next to impossible for the new Governor and new Legislature to not abide by the voters' clear will."
Or so you might think.
For those in need of a refresher on Eyman's latest Democrat-befuddling initiative, the reason for I-1185 is fairly simple according to Eyman: Pesky state law allows voter-approved initiatives to be amended after two years, much like lawmakers amended the similarly tax-limiting Initiative 960 in 2010 to allow for several tax bills. Eyman has said that with the possibility looming of liberal lawmakers carving up 1053 next January, the time to renew the initiative is now.
Yesterday, via press release, Eyman wasn't done laying it on:
"Is it any wonder that opponents chose to file their case before a Seattle judge?" Eyman openly wonders in his press release. "Thank goodness the Attorney General will appeal."
Yes. McKenna to the rescue. Or something.
State Senator Janea Holmquist, a Republican from Moses Lake, also issued a statement on yesterday's ruling, at the same time announcing her intention to sponsor a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes.
"Today's decision by Judge Heller is disappointing but by no means unexpected. The Olympia ruling class that thinks it knows best has repeatedly tried to make it easier to raise taxes, with no regard for the will of the taxpayers who have repeatedly said they want to make it harder for legislators to pick their pockets," Holmquist boldly proclaimed (via press release). "Judge Heller's decision, and the actions of legislators who brought this issue back to the courts, represent a flagrant disregard for the will of the taxpayers."
"What is outrageous is that this case is the result of a handful of Democratic legislators plotting to sue the people, in a way that completely ignores our constitution and the deference it gives to the people as the sovereigns and source of all legitimate political authority," Holmquist's rant continued. "This case will undoubtedly be appealed to the state Supreme Court. While I hope that the court will do the right thing and uphold the constitution and the will of the people, I fear that the only way we will ever keep liberal legislators and their activist allies in the courts from tinkering with this important taxpayer protection is by enshrining it in the state constitution. ... I will be sponsoring a constitutional amendment to do just that when the Legislature goes back into session in January. As always, I want every taxpayer to know that I am committed to protecting you, your wallet and your rights."
Thank god someone is looking out for us.