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Originally published Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 3:39 PM

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Wash. voters weigh charter schools, tax rule

Possibly adding charter schools to the mix of public school options and continuing a requirement that a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature is necessary to raise taxes are among the choices before Washingtonians this Election Day.

Associated Press

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SEATTLE —

Possibly adding charter schools to the mix of public school options and continuing a requirement that a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature is necessary to raise taxes are among the choices before Washingtonians this Election Day.

Voters have considered both ideas many times before. They have repeatedly approved initiatives requiring a supermajority for tax increases, but have rejected the idea of charter schools three times - in 1995, 2000 and 2004.

Supporters say the charter school proposal on Tuesday's ballot, Initiative 1240, would open as many as 40 of the independent schools over five years and offer hope for struggling kids and their families. Opponents say charters have a mixed track record in other states and they would take away money from regular public schools.

Proponents of charter schools raised more than $10 million to promote the idea, including $3 million from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Opponents raised considerably less, but had the vocal strength of teachers represented by the Washington Education Association behind them.

Washington is one of just nine states that do not allow the independent schools.

Anti-tax crusader Tim Eyman's initiative to renew the two-thirds legislative majority, Initiative 1185, was somewhat overshadowed this election season by a Washington Supreme Court case to decide the voting requirement's constitutionality. The court has yet to rule on that case.

Since the 1990s, voters have approved the two-thirds restriction four times. Eyman took over sponsoring the initiative in 2007. Since then, he has filed it every other year to deter lawmakers from suspending the rule, which they can do with a simple majority vote after two years.

The supermajority initiative was last approved in 2010 with 64 percent of the vote.

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