Serving Franklin County, WA

Require supermajority for tax hikes

If there’s one thing Americans can still agree on, it’s that tax policy is one of the most consequential decisions our government makes that impacts our economy and family budgets.

With the exception of Washington state, policymakers in the mountain states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have been very active the last few years prioritizing tax relief while making fiscally conservative budget investments. While this ongoing tax relief effort is to be commended, more can be done to help provide taxpayers the peace of mind that tax increases will always be the last resort when budgeting.

One way to do this is by adding requirements to a state’s constitution that require a supermajority vote or voter approval to raise taxes. Now, you may say that the current makeup of the legislatures in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are already sufficient to avoid tax increases. While that may be true today, it may not be tomorrow as experienced by taxpayers in Washington state.

Consider the fact Washington voters over the years passed ballot measures requiring a supermajority vote to raise taxes not once, twice, or thrice, but six separate times. Yet today, this taxpayer protection does not exist in Washington because it was not added to the state constitution.

Instead, Washington taxpayers now face tax increases on an annual basis without this protection.

There are currently 17 states with supermajority requirements to increase taxes.

Proactively acting to protect taxpayers by sending voters a supermajority for tax increases constitutional amendment is a prudent thing for policymakers to do.

Whether requiring voter approval for all tax increases like in Colorado or needing a 2/3 legislative threshold as occurs in Florida, increasing the tax burden imposed on families and businesses should first secure a broad consensus and always be the last resort when budgeting.

—Jason Mercier is the Mountain States Policy Center director. Email him at [email protected].

 

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