The non-binding tax advisory measures on Washington state’s ballot year after year are a waste of time and money. The practice is also frustrating for voters who take the time to consider the proposals, only to find their elected officials didn’t even notice.
We understand why the state Senate is looking at doing away with the non-advisory votes.
However, the alternative pitched — replacing them with a task force that would provide recommendations to the Legislature on how to gather and report public input on tax bills — is no better.
We elect people to the Legislature (or Congress or our local city councils and county commissions) to represent us. We, as a society, empower our representatives to consider decisions carefully and vote in a way they believe is best for the people who elected them.
It’s the job of each elected lawmaker to reach out to constituents to determine whether she or he is doing the job satisfactorily. If lawmakers aren’t, they will get voted out of office.
On last November’s ballot, there were a full dozen non-binding votes on tax legislation that was approved by the House and Senate. Citizens voted against nine of the taxes and in favor of three of them.
What changed? Nothing.
Advisory votes are “a waste of taxpayer dollars that’s designed to instill cynicism and distrust in government and the decisions made by elected leaders,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue and the sponsor of Senate Bill 6610.
Tim Eyman, the initiative king, engineered the advisory votes. He contends it is essentially a report card on the Legislature. Perhaps.
However, given Eyman’s anti-tax stance on just about every tax proposed, it seems the goal is to create distrust in the Legislature as Kuderer contends.
Eyman, who is running for governor, has plenty of opportunity to make his point to the public on tax proposals without having to put the electorate through this nonsensical advisory votes annually.
So, too, does every other citizen of Washington state. Tax measures should be debated before they are approved, not after.
The cost of adding the advisory votes to the ballot does not justify continuing this mandate. Andrew Villeneuve, founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, said his organization looked at the cost of the 2017 election, finding Walla Walla County billed the state $11,438.52 for costs associated with the advisory votes.
When the cost incurred by the other 38 counties are calculated, it’s clear taxpayers would save by eliminating the advisory votes.
The Legislature has the power to take that action, and should do so.