OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Election day is less than a week away, and while controversial measures about same sex marriage, charter schools and marijuana legalization have been covered, some measures slip under the radar.
Dave Ammons, the Communications Director for Washington State Secretary of State's Office and the spokesperson for the Washington Election division, helped break down the details in the guide. Joint Resolutions 8221 and 8223 are pretty standard according to Ammons. "Both passed through Olympia quite easily, so they're non controversial," he explains.
8221 would slowly reduce the amount of debt Washington can accrue from 9% now to 8.5% by the year 2014. "If you reduce the amount of money you commit to pay off debt, then those dollars are freed up to spend on higher education, or K-12 or other purposes. Because right now all of the bond debt is taken off the top. That's the very first decisions that get made because they are protected. If you reduce that amount of money that goes for that purpose, then it will be available for other purposes," said Ammons.
8223 is would allow Washington State University and University of Washington to invest their funds in the stock market, something that's currently not allowed, but currently being done for our state's pension system. "You have to weight the risk versus benefit. It would actually put the actual investment process up to our state investment board, which handles such things for the state pension system," said Ammons.
Then there are two brand new advisory votes in the pamphlet as well. Those votes don't actually change any law, but they give feedback to lawmakers, who can see if the people agree with what they've passed. They are part of Tim Eymans' previous I-960 that passed. While the results on both are non-binding, "you're given the opportunity to tell the legislature what you think of what they did on those two revenue bills," says Ammons.
Advisory vote one, reads complicated, but Ammons explains that if you vote to "maintain" it, you are supporting the legislative move to stop giving big out of state banks a preferential business tax rate, making them pay at a higher rate than local banks and credit unions. He says that measure helped us add $18 million to our state treasury, at time Washington was having a hard time balancing a multi-million dollar budget gap.
Advisory vote two passed with flying colors with law makers, extending the small tax on each barrel of petroleum that finances our state's oil spill program. So the tax rate actually decreased, but it got spread out over a longer period of time and creates revenue, explains Ammons.
Another big one is Initiative 1185, which would extend the requirement of a two thirds legislative majority in both chambers to approve any tax increases. It's also sponsored by Tim Eyeman, a political initiative activist in Washington. Ammons explains passing 1185 would make it more difficult for law makers to pass any sort of tax increases for the state.
To read more on Dave Ammons blog on initiatives, click here.
To see the voter's pamphlet, click here.