14th District representatives fight to keep the Taxpayer Protection Act in place


The House of Representatives debated long into the night on Senate Bill 6130, which would suspend all of the provisions of citizen-approved Initiative 960. Reps. Charles Ross and Norm Johnson spoke against the bill before voting against it.

“Tonight the majority placed a pall upon the people. This will do nothing to reassure people in these unstable times,” said Ross, R-Naches. “The majority’s willingness to tell citizens they know better is a slap in the face to hardworking employers and families. This is just more evidence for folks who don’t trust their government anymore. Our republic is supposed to be ‘of the people, by the people and for the people,’ but tonight’s vote only showed government serving itself.”

In 2007, voters approved Initiative 960 by 61 percent in the 14th District. The initiative:

  • requires public notifications and 10-year cost projections when bills are introduced, heard and passed which increase taxes or fees;
  • enforces and clarifies a two-thirds majority vote requirement of the Legislature, or a vote of the people, to increase taxes;
  • requires notice to voters in the voters’ pamphlet regarding actions by legislators that raise taxes; and,
  • requires an advisory vote from the public when taxes are increased.

If the governor signs Senate Bill 6130 suspending this initiative, the second, third and fourth parts of the initiative listed above will be null immediately.

“Initiative 960 was put in place by the voters because the Legislature had no self control with the taxpayers’ money. At a time when revenues were growing by 6 percent annually, the governor and Democrat majority increased spending by 18 percent. Even the governor’s budget advisors said at the time the level of spending was unsustainable. So our state’s budget was in trouble months before the recession hit,” said Johnson, R-Yakima. “Now we have double digit unemployment, including more than five thousand people in the 14th District out of work. And yet, the majority party is dismantling the I-960 protections so they can go after taxpayers and the unemployed to bail out state government from poor spending decisions.”

The 14th District lawmakers said they were concerned the growing list of tax and fee increases being proposed in the House would soon be passed by a simple majority in the Legislature. There have been 77 tax and fee increase bills proposed as of this week, totaling $3 billion in new state and local taxes or fees for the 2011 fiscal year.

“We don’t need to open the floodgates to taxes on income, bottled water, candy, street maintenance and coin collectors, or increased sales or gas taxes,” Ross said. “There’s a growing concern in the public about how the government handles their money. This Taxpayer Protection Act was not put into place by any of us in the Legislature. This was put in place because the people think this government cannot control itself when it comes to spending. It’s time to step up and find true efficiencies, to turn the status quo on its head and ask the hard questions within our bureaucracy to make it more efficient.”

“Government is not the only one hurting in this recession. Our citizens are hurting so much more than government. Employers have had to lay off workers or cut back hours, and families are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table. No one can afford to pay more taxes,” Johnson said.

Earlier today, Gov. Gregoire announced a proposal of tax increases totaling nearly $760 million, which she plans to ask the Legislature to approve once she signs the suspension of I-960 into law. The House approved suspension of the measure with a vote of 51-47. It now goes back to the Senate for consideration of an amendment made in the House.


Sarah Lamb, public information officer (360) 786-7720, for Rep. Ross
John Sattgast, senior information officer, (360) 786-7257, for Rep. Johnson


Washington State House Republican Communications