This morning at a coffee shop in the Central District, Bill Gates Sr. formally rolled out Initiative 1077, which would cut property taxes by 20 percent, eliminate some taxes on small businesses, and increase funding for education and health care, all by instituting an income tax on the state's wealthiest residents.

Only those earning $200,000 a year and up would pay, with the aim of the new tax being to insulate the state's budget (which now relies primarily on sales taxes) from the boom-and-bust cycles of the larger economy. The measure would also begin to level the playing field in a state where, because of the regressive nature of the sales tax, the poor now pay a much larger percentage of their income in taxes than do the wealthy.

There will be a number of challenges to getting I-1077 passed—beginning with collecting the necessary signatures and perhaps ending with a legal challenge over whether the measure is even constitutional in a state where courts have in the past deemed income taxes illegal. But to me, one of the most interesting hurdles is going to be getting enough voices among the moneyed elite on board.

When I asked Bill Gates Sr. this morning whether he could name others in his income bracket who were backing the measure—and whether his son was among those voices—he was vague.

"There are a lot of them," he said. "I don't know what my son is going to do."