Seattle P-I: It's Not the High Taxes, Stupid

Are voters sick of taxes?
Gov. Chris Gregoire is worried enough about angry voters to call a special legislative session to reinstate I-747's tax limit.

That's how the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website front page teased a November 26 story by state capitol correspondent Chris McGann. The bottom line is that the Democratic governor -- who eked out a narrow victory in 2004 after a drawn-out recount process -- has called the state legislature to convene on November 29 in a special session to address a court ruling that struck down I-747, a tax limitation measure that voters approved six years ago.

McGann found a politicial scientist and a Democratic state legislative leader to suggest that voters are not really all that steamed about high taxes. By contrast, McGann produced just one man, Tim Eyman, to suggest voters in Washington State are fed up with high taxes.

What's more, nowhere does McGann find any conservatives to suggest that Washington State voters might chafe at their legislators failing to do anything to address overreaching or judicial activism by the court that struck down a ballot initiative approved by the voters themselves.

Here's an excerpt of McGann's article, with portions in bold reflecting my emphasis.:

Eyman's Initiative 960, the measure that requires non-binding advisory votes for all tax increases that do not include a voter referendum, is perhaps the best evidence that voters are sick of taxes and government spending. Eyman's initiative passed with support from most of Washington outside King County.


But although Eyman sees tax fatigue and distrust of government -- as he has for roughly a decade in politics -- others see a different, cloudier message in the most recent election results.

[Washington State University political scientist Travis] Ridout said the elections did not provide a clear message.

"It would be hard to read tax fatigue in those tea leaves," he said. "I don't sense a clear message coming out of this."

But that won't stop people from interpreting the results in a way that suits their own agenda, he said.

"As in most years, I think Republicans will campaign on tax issues."

Since Democrats control the governor's mansion and the Legislature, Ridout said voters fed up with taxes will have an obvious target.

But those aren't necessarily the same voters who weighed in this month, he said.


Democrats who are now calling the shots in Olympia may have a lot at stake, but they are taking a wait-and-see attitude about reading the prevalent attitude of voters going into the 2008 election.

House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, said I-960 was more about how people feel about the often-maligned Legislature than taxes.

"Over a period of years, people have been running down the Legislature and saying that we are all dishonest and that we are all underhanded, Tim Eyman loves to play that card himself, and I think voters do wonder what we are up to. I'm not surprised it passed," Kessler said.

"The way we are going to look at (the election) is as a mixed message at the polls," she said. "Especially with the simple majority measure passing -- before that I would have said, wow, it's leaning pretty heavily toward anti-tax, but now it's pretty much a mixed bag.

Taxes Media Bias Debate Washington Seattle Post-Intelligencer Government & Press Chris McGann Christine Gregoire

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