PARRISH, from Page 4
Convergence of circumstances
These seemingly unrelated items bring us back to Eyman. He’s a sharp guy, and so while you could just chalk his “don’t let voters decide” riff up to ideological convenience and/or hypocrisy, there’s a bit more to it than that. Chances are good both he and Gregoire have private polls showing that tax increases on the ballot have a good chance of passing this year.
In the case of the larger November package in particular, Obama is likely to easily win Washington state, Maria Cantwell should coast to reelection and a marijuana decriminalization bill will also likely be on the ballot — all boosting Democratic and especially young voter turnout.
More fundamentally, enough voters now know that the state budget simply can’t be cut much further without Washington becoming Mississippi with more rain. And our Supreme Court has just cut off the one area — education — where lawmakers usually look first to make cuts. What’s left are choices nobody wants: public safety, courts, prisons, regulatory enforcement, the bits that remain of our social safety net.
Circumstances are conspiring this year to force state leaders to make the choice they least like to make: raising revenues. So they’ll do the next best thing: pass the buck to us. But they’ll even do that only if they’re somewhat confident that we’ll accede rather than blame them.
In this case, after years of draconian cuts and with the Washington Supreme Court riding herd, the case is so compelling that even Eyman is worried that we’ll agree to tax hikes.
These budget crises are going to keep on happening until the state reforms its antiquated (and stunningly regressive) tax structure. But relax, Boeing and Microsoft: Gregoire and the state Legislature aren’t that courageous — yet.
GEOV PARRISH is cofounder of Eat the State! He also reviews news of the week on “Mind Over Matters” on KEXP 90.3 FM.