Judge Rejects Attorney General’s Claim that I-601 is Unconstitutional
Evergreen Freedom Foundation
May 1, 2006
OLYMPIA, WA Today Snohomish County Superior Court Judge James Allendoerfer signed an order, reflecting his March 17 oral ruling that the state violated I-601 during the 2005 Legislative Session. The move came after the Judge heard a motion from the Attorney General to reconsider his ruling. The motion argued, among other things, that I-601 was unconstitutional.
Judge Allendoerfer ordered the spending limit adopted in November 2005 be reduced by $250 million dollars, and he invalidated a majority of the taxes raised in HB 2314, with the exception of the cigarette tax. The Judge also rejected the AG's argument that I-601 is unconstitutional, saying it was not an issue properly brought before the court.
"It is shocking that the Attorney General would argue our 13-year-old, voter-approved taxpayer protection law is unconstitutional," said Jason Mercier, senior budget analyst for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. "As a voting member of the I-601 expenditure limit committee, the Attorney General should be working to ensure state officials are following the law instead of defending their attempts to circumvent it."
"We are hoping that today's scolding by the Judge will be enough to convince the Attorney General to drop this outrageous constitutional challenge to the will of the people," said Mercier.
Court Makes Transcript of Ruling in I-601 Lawsuit Available
OLYMPIA, Wash., April 5, 2006 -- Although Gov. Chris Gregoire stated last Friday that the government would appeal Snohomish County Court Judge James Allendoerfer’s ruling which invalidated several new taxes, as of Tuesday, April 4, the Attorney General’s office had not signed a proposed order that would enable such an appeal to go forward.
A transcript of the March 17 hearing is now available. During the hearing, Allendoerfer ruled that, “the Legislature exploited a loophole in I-601 for the express purpose of artificially increasing the expenditure limit so as to avoid a vote by the people on the new taxes included in the biennium budget.”
Allendoerfer explained that the Legislature had used a budget gimmick that “could end all meaningful expenditure limits in the state of Washington, and deprive the taxpayers of ever having an opportunity to vote on new taxes.”
Here is a link to the proposed order (drafted by the I-601 Coalition) and the transcript of the judge’s remarks.
"We are thankful the judge made this particular ruling, but are disappointed the estate tax couldn't be among the taxes thrown out," said Washington State Grange President Terry Hunt. "What’s important about this case is recognizing the spending limits that were put in place by the voters," he said.
I-601 provides that when government spending exceeds certain limits, new tax and revenue measures are not effective until referred to a vote of the people. In 2005, the Legislature created an estate tax in Washington state, however, that tax was not impacted by this ruling, since revenues from this new tax are directed away from the general fund.
Allendoerfer ruled that the Legislature’s budget shell games were “a palpable attempt at dissimulation.” He further explained: “The word dissimulation, per Webster’s dictionary, means ‘to hide under a false appearance.’”
“I-601 was a barrier to out-of-control government spending. The current Legislature has discovered tricks to circumvent the will of the people, and now it is up to voters to elect people who will keep the people’s will at heart,” said Carolyn Logue, Washington State Director for NFIB.
More at Save 601.org