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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 30, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Voters to weigh in on recent tax increases in non-binding queries

Washington state voters this fall will get to express their approval or disapproval of two minor tax increases passed by the Legislature earlier this year, the first use of a little-known provision of a 2007 initiative sponsored by Tim Eyman.

The “tax advisory votes” will be non-binding, meaning lawmakers won’t be required to change policy based on what voters say. They will concern the elimination of a mortgage-related tax deduction for interstate banks and the extension of a tax on wholesale oil sales.

The addition of the advisory votes to the November ballot was announced Monday by the Secretary of State’s Office after the office received formal notification from Solicitor General Maureen Hart.

The Everett Herald first reported on the possibility of the advisory votes last week.

Including the queries on the voter’s pamphlet may cost more than $100,000, The Herald reported.

But Eyman said it’s important for lawmakers to consider public input in tax decisions.

“I’m very pleased that voters will at least get a chance to weigh in on these tax increases with a vote and they get the opportunity to learn how legislators voted on these tax increase bills,” Eyman wrote in a statement responding to the Monday announcement. “What I like most is that legislators in 2013 and beyond will have another reason to think twice about voting for any tax increase:  their legislative votes on tax increases will be published in the voters pamphlet and they’ll know that their constituents will have the chance to second-guess their vote.”

His Initiative 960, which passed in 2007, received attention for its requirement of a two-thirds vote for the Legislature to raise taxes. But it also called for taxes that passed that threshold to get a non-binding public vote.

The initiative was suspended in 2010, but that suspension has since expired.

The two tax minor increases were each passed earlier this year by huge margins.

Comments | More in homepage | Topics: general election ballot, Maureen Hart, November election

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