On behalf of Knoll Lowney, a local attorney and activist, a citizen filed an initiative today that would impose an excise tax on joint incomes exceeding $400,000, create a trust fund for health and education services, reduce property tax by 20 percent, and eliminate the state's business and occupation taxes for small companies. The measure (which you can read in this .pdf) was submitted to the Secretary of State's office today and will be reviewed by the Office of the Code Reviser to make sure it jibes with existing law.
But there could be complications with its legality. "You cannot have a graduated state income tax without amending the state constitution. The court has been clear on that," says Dave Ammons, spokesman for the Secretary of State. To amend the state consitution, both houses of the state legislature would need to approve the amendment by a two-thirds majority and a simple majority voters would have to ratify the legislature's vote.
The initiative's text argues that it complies with law. Because it imposes an "excise" tax, based on the receipt of income rather than the income as an asset, the measure is "intended to conform to the legal framework adopted by almost all states, consistent with United State Supreme Court rulings," it says.
"It’s not a back-of-the-napkin kind of" initiative, Ammons adds. "This guy has thought about a total rewrite of the tax system."
I have a call in to Lowney but haven't heard back.
The state legislature is considering methods to close a $2.6 billion budget shortfall. Yesterday I reported on moves in the state senate, apparently inspired by two taxation measures that passed Tuesday in Oregon, to raise state taxes on the wealthiest corporations and individuals.