OLYMPIA…Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, walked over to the governor’s office early this morning with a written request to veto section three of Senate Bill 6130. Section three suspends the advisory vote on tax increases.
“I rushed over early this morning with the letter because she was scheduled to sign the bill at ten this morning,” Benton said. “Since then, she has postponed the bill-signing ceremony until four this afternoon – I sincerely hope there is a connection.”
“The governor has indicated her support for tax increases, and I’m sure she is under pressure to make sure the two-thirds vote requirement goes away. But she doesn’t have to accept the other changes to Initiative 960. I hope I’ve made her think about that.”
Benton would like the entire bill vetoed, but wrote to the governor:
“If you cannot veto all of ESSB 6130, I respectfully request that you veto section three of the bill. In doing so you would preserve the people’s right to an advisory vote on tax increases passed by the Legislature. I believe that the citizens have a right to know about legislative actions that increase taxes and that we would do well to listen to their response in the form of an advisory vote.”
Suspension of the advisory vote means how legislators vote on tax increases will not appear in the November voters’ pamphlet.
“People have the right to know how legislators vote. That’s why they approved Initiative 960 in the first place – they want sunshine on their government.”
A copy of Benton’s letter below:
Dear Governor Gregoire: On Monday, a majority in the Senate voted to concur with the House of Representatives’ amendment to Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6130, and I understand that you intend to take action on the bill today. Governor, if you sign this bill, you will gut the heart of the Taxpayer Protection Act approved by Washington voters through Initiative 960.
Although the Taxpayer Protection Act is best known for protecting Washington taxpayers from tax increases that do not have significant support of the legislature or the public, it is also a model of government transparency and openness. As the primary author of the transparency provisions of Initiative 960, I am particularly interested in preserving those protections. Important transparency components of the initiative include:
• Requiring public notifications regarding legislative action on tax and fee legislation; • Requiring advisory votes on tax increases adopted by the Legislature; and • Requiring information regarding tax increases to be included in the state voters’ pamphlet to help voters when they mark their ballots.
Many in the state will be upset when they discover that ESSB 6130 suspends the Taxpayer Protection Act’s super majority vote requirements, and will allow the legislature to approve tax increases with a simple majority vote during the 2010 and 2011 legislative sessions.
Many in the state will be outraged, however, when they discover that ESSB 6130 also suspends the non-binding advisory vote (RCW 43.135.041), and the associated publication of information in the state voters’ pamphlet (RCW 29A.32.070).
Raisingtaxes is one thing; hiding it from the citizens of Washington State is something of a completely different order. Transparency and openness should be accorded the highest protection in our law. If you cannot veto all of ESSB 6130, I respectfully request that you veto section three of the bill. In doing so you would preserve the people’s right to an advisory vote on tax increases passed by the legislature. I believe that the citizens have a right to know about legislative actions that increase taxes and that we would do well to listen to their response in the form of an advisory vote.
Governor, by exercising your partial veto of ESSB 6130 you will preserve the transparency and openness that Washingtonians value so highly. Please protect the remaining transparency provisions of the Taxpayer Protection Act. Sincerely, Senator Don Benton