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Approve amendments and maintain tax actions

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Oct. 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm with No Comments »
October 24, 2012 5:19 pm

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Voters can be excused if they’re scratching their heads over four measures on the Nov. 6 ballot. The ballot language can be confusing, especially on the two advisory vote measures.

We’ll make it easy for you. The News Tribune editorial board recommends that you vote “approved” on the two constitutional amendments (ESJR 8221 and SJR 8223) and “maintained” on the two advisory votes. Here’s why.

Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221: The Legislature passed this proposed constitutional amendment overwhelmingly (129 to 14) with bipartisan support. It implements a recommendation by the Commission on State Debt to change the calculations for determining the level of debt the state can assume.

This provides more financial flexibility and, over time, would reduce the state debt limit relative to the overall budget from 9 to 8 percent and reduce the state’s debt service payments. That’s just good policy.

Senate Joint Resolution 8223: This proposed constitutional amendment passed the Legislature by an even greater bipartisan margin: 138 to 8. It would allow the University of Washington and Washington State University to invest certain public funds in private companies or stock. The Legislature would retain authority over which funds could be invested and how.

According to supporters, this measure would provide new revenue to the flagship universities in a way that doesn’t rely on higher tuition or new taxes – a big consideration in times of declining state funding. Investments would be managed for maximum benefit by the well-regarded Washington State Investment Board.

Advisory votes 1 and 2: These are nonbinding votes on two tax-related bills passed by the Legislature. If you’ve got ballot overload by the time you hit these two measures, it really doesn’t matter much if you skip them.

The first vote is whether to maintain the Legislature’s elimination of a tax break that benefits certain financial lenders. The measure (SB 6635) passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, 109 to 34.

The second vote is whether to maintain a petroleum products tax on shippers and refiners. The measure (HB 2590) passed almost unanimously: 133 to 1.

Vote “maintained” on both.

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