Washington Aircraft Excise Tax Question, Advisory Vote 4 (2013)
|Washington Advisory Vote 4|
|Referred by:||Washington Legislature|
The measure asked voters whether they approved the legislature's imposition of an aircraft excise tax on commuter air carriers. The excise tax, passed by the legislature as Senate Bill 5627, was projected to generate $500,000 in revenue for the state.
The tax is a fee for any airline company operating passenger planes on a frequent basis. The fee is based on the weight of the airplane being registered. The weight classes and fees outlined in the measure are as follows:
- Less than 4,001 lbs. - $500
- 4,001-6,000 lbs. - $1,000
- 6,001-8,000 lbs. - $2,000
- 8,001-9,000 lbs. - $3,000
- 9,001-12,500 lbs. - $4,000
Below are the official election results. Washington is a mail-in ballot state and does not have polling places. All ballots postmarked November 5 were be counted. Results were certified on November 26, 2013 by the Secretary of State. A yes vote supported the repeal of the legislature’s implementation of an aircraft excise tax. A no vote supported maintaining the legislature’s implementation of an aircraft excise tax.
|Advisory Vote 4|
- These results are from the Washington Office of the Secretary of State.
- See also: Initiative 960
A provision of a 2007 ballot measure, Initiative 960, directly led to the placement of this advisory vote on the ballot. Under that approved measure, a statewide advisory vote is required on all tax increases passed by the state legislature. Initiative 960 was sponsored by Tim Eyman and originally required a two-thirds supermajority in the legislature or a legally binding vote of the people to approve any tax increases or eliminations of tax credits. Though the supermajority requirement was struck down by the Washington Supreme Court in 2013, the advisory vote clause was left intact.
Text of measure
The official ballot text read as follows:
|“||The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, an aircraft excise tax on commuter air carriers in lieu of property tax, costing approximately $500,000 in its first ten years, for government spending.
This tax increase should be:
Repealed [ ]
Maintained [ ] 
Comments on Initiative 960
Because of its automatic and nonbinding nature, most commentary about this advisory question revolved around the issue of whether or not such votes are necessary.
As the sponsor of Initiative 960, Tim Eyman repeatedly stated his belief that the automatic advisory questions on taxes are a benefit to the Washington public. In an interview with the Olympian, Eyman argued the advisory questions kept legislators in check. He said, "If you know you’re going to get caught doing something bad, the less likely you will do something bad. It forces legislators to be thinking, this November my constituents will know how I voted on this bill."
According David Ammons, spokesman for the Washington secretary of state's office, placing the five advisory questions on the 2013 ballot was expected to cost taxpayers about $240,000. Some said this cost was too high for ballot measures that effectively have no impact whether voters approve them or not.
Andrew Villeneuve, of the Northwest Progressive Institute, argued that the advisory votes were too much of a burden on the state's elections budget. In a response to Eyman's comments to the Olympian, Villeneuve said, "Tim Eyman's comments today again show that his real objective is weakening and destroying government, not making it function more efficiently. Our Constitution provides for three kinds of statewide ballot measures: initiatives, referenda, and constitutional amendments. The Constitution does not authorize advisory votes. Consequently, I-960's advisory vote scheme is unconstitutional in addition to being wasteful. It was purposely engineered to clutter up our ballots and give Eyman more fodder for emails to reporters."
Path to the ballot
The measure was sent to the ballot via the aforementioned 2007 ballot measure.
- 2013 ballot measures
- Washington 2013 ballot measures
- List of Washington ballot measures
- Washington Legislature
- Washington Secretary of State, "Advisory Vote 4," accessed August 9, 2013
- Washington State Senate, "Senate Bill 5627," accessed August 29, 2013
- Olympian, "UPDATE - AG: Five tax measures qualify for advisory votes on November ballots," July 16, 2013
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.