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Originally published Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 4:07 PM

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I-1098 proponents falsely claim tax can't be touched without public vote

The Seattle Times editorial board says, once again, "No" to the income tax proposed by Initiative 1098. Proponents falsely claim the tax can't be expanded without a vote of the people.

"LIE" is a word used sparingly in these columns. To call a statement a lie is to say it is false and the person saying it knows it to be false. It is a fitting word for one of the current ads for Initiative 1098, the proposed state income tax.

The ad falsely starts with a green road sign saying, "TRUTH about Initiative 1098." A woman's voice — a calm, reasonable voice — says that "1098 can't be touched without a vote of the people."

That is a lie.

If the ad claimed, "Our initiative says it can't be touched without a vote of the people," that would be true. The initiative does say that, but the language is there just for looks. The Washington Constitution trumps all other state law, and the constitution says that two years after an initiative is passed it can be altered by a majority vote of the Legislature.

The people who wrote I-1098 know this. For them to say, "1098 can't be touched without a vote of the people," is a lie.

It can. It will.

The proponents of a state income tax argue that the Legislature would not ignore a vote of the people. But six months ago it did. On a simple majority vote it suspended Initiative 960, which set a two-thirds rule to raise taxes. I-960 was approved by the people November 2007. It was written as permanent legislation, just as I-1098 is. Last spring, the Legislature suspended it.

That is reality. The politicians know it. The I-1098 people know it, no matter what they put in their ads.

The deeper deception in their proposed income tax is its beatific public face. Recall the ad in which 84-year-old Bill Gates Sr. is dunked into a pool of water. Gates a rich guy, soaked. He smiles at the joke. He is loving it. Kids cheer.

But who will be paying this tax 20 years from now? Those kids. They will pay in economic opportunities lost, and they will pay in cash. They will pay and pay, and they will not recall the cuteness of it.

Please, vote no on Initiative 1098.

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