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Wash. high court strikes supermajority for taxes

February 28, 2013 • Business


Initiative activist Tim Eyman speaks to the media in front of the Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, in Olympia, Wash. Eyman responded to a Supreme Court ruling that overturned one of his initiatives that limited the ability of the Legislature to raise taxes. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday made it easier for the Legislature to raise taxes, ruling that the only way to require a supermajority vote is to enshrine it in the Constitution.

Democrats said potential taxes need to be part of the conversation in Olympia, but Republicans in the House and a Republican-dominated majority in the Senate said they would work to keep the two-thirds vote requirement.

A divided high court ruled 6-3 that an initiative requiring a two-thirds requirement for tax increases was in conflict with the state Constitution and that lawmakers and the people of Washington would need to pass a constitutional amendment to change from a simple majority to a supermajority.

A coalition of lawmakers and education groups sued the state over the issue, and a King County judge decided last spring that the state constitution requires only a simple majority to pass tax proposals.

Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters, lead plaintiff with the Washington Education Association, called the decision a huge win for kids and schools, because it could make it easier to find money for the state to fully pay for basic education in Washington, as required by the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in the McCleary case.

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