Have you ever asked your state legislator to support a fair and balanced approach to the budget, including closing tax loopholes or new revenue, only to hear them say, “Sorry, my hands are tied”? Well, yesterday morning the Washington State Supreme Court untied their hands.
In a 6-3 vote, the Court ruled that a supermajority requirement – a two-thirds vote – to raise revenue or close tax loopholes is unconstitutional. This is good news for kids!
The court opinion states that the Supermajority requirement enabled a “tyranny of the minority” – referencing the fact that a minority of legislators - as few as 17 individuals in the Senate – could block legislation to close tax loopholes or raise revenue.
Over the past five years we have seen nearly $10.6 billion in state budget cuts. These cuts have fallen hard on families in every corner of Washington, and have fallen extra hard on children in immigrant families and families of color. Some cuts like those to State Food Assistance and Apple Health for Kids specifically target children in immigrant families, others have fallen harder on communities of color which have also lost a disproportionate amount of wealth and economic stability in the recession.
Yesterday’s court decision is a definite win for kids, but only if legislators take the next logical step. Lawmakers have several revenue options to choose from. Raising revenue would help create a budget that can fully fund State Food Assistance and fight hunger, increase access to high-quality early learning, and restore equal premiums for Apple Health for Kids.
What can you do? Let your legislators know you support raising revenue fairly so we can invest in our kids and take smart steps forward. Also let them know that they need to protect our democratic budget process.
There is already a proposal before the legislature to amend our state constitution and lock the two-thirds vote requirement into law – putting handcuffs on legislators for good. You can watch Children's Alliance Government Relations Director Jen Estroff's testimony against this bad idea below, and then be sure to weigh-in now and voice your opposition by using the “comment on this bill” link.