The Washington State Supreme Court ruled Initiative 1053's two-third vote requirement by the legislature to increase taxes is unconstitutional. The Justices did not rule on the Constitutionality of the referendum portion of the Initiative.
As to the two-thirds requirement: The Justices wrote: "If the people and the legislature wish to adopt such a requirement, they must do so through constitutional amendment. We also note that our holding is supported by other jurisdictions that have addressed this issue."
The ruling states:
The language and history of the constitution evince a principle favoring a simple majority vote for legislation. ...Washington's government was founded as a representative democracy based on simple majority rule. More importantly, the framers were particularly concerned with a tyranny of the minority.
This preference for simple majority rule is evident from the very language of the constitution, which required only a simple majority vote for ordinary legislation and reserved a supermajority vote for special circumstances. The seven supermajority requirements in the original constitution were all relegated to special circumstances, not the passage of ordinary legislation.
The Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), a statewide professional association representing nearly 1,100 members including superintendents, central office administrators, and building principals, released the following press release:
WASA PRESS RELEASE: OLYMPIA, Washington —Today (February 28, 2013), the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that Initiative 1053 —the two‐thirds majority vote initiative—unconstitutional. Rather than a simple majority, Tim Eyman’s I‐1053 requires a supermajority two‐thirds vote from legislators to raise revenues or close tax loopholes.
Under the McCleary ruling in early 2012, the state must provide a significant down payment in addition to meeting the budget shortfall for this biennium to fulfill its duty in amply funding public education. The I‐1053 ruling will provide the legislature a greater ability to meet its financial obligation to McCleary, so all students in Washington State have an opportunity to succeed.
“This decision reinforces the intent of the constitution and the concept of one‐person, one‐vote rather than empowering a handful of votes to count more,” commented WASA Executive Director Paul Rosier on the Court’s ruling. “A democracy should reflect the desire of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority, which this decision does.”
WASA thanks The League of Education Voters and Washington Education Association for taking the lead in this important effort.