Inside Opinion

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Tag: initiatives


Voters should be willing to pay cost of initiatives they approve

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

The state’s current budget morass makes at least one point all too obvious: The pot of money available to fund services is a finite one. Add a new service to be performed, and something else has to be cut.

When state legislators enact a new program, they have to find the funding for it – either by cutting something else or paying for it with a new tax or user fee. That’s because the state constitution requires them to balance the budget.

Unfortunately, state voters are under no such obligation. When they approve an initiative, they essentially toss the ball to the Legislature to figure out a way to pay for it.
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KISS principle prevailed in Washington’s elections

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In the middle of the hardest economy most of us have known, the citizens of Pierce County on Tuesday approved a new tax. A sales tax, no less, to pay for better 911 system.

OK, it wasn’t a big tax – just an extra penny on a $10 purchase. But it wouldn’t have had a meatball’s chance in a pack of Rottweilers if citizens hadn’t been persuaded they were getting value for their money.

In this case, the value was considerable:

A unified countywide dispatch system to replace the balkanized hodgepodge of agencies that now handle emergency calls. A 21st-century digital radio system to replace aging and obsolete technology. Police, firefighters and dispatchers who can locate and talk to each other across Pierce County in a seamless communications system.

Proponents were selling something easy to understand – public safety – and voters bought it.

Like the election results or lump them – and we lump some of them – Washingtonians were persuaded by clarity when they filled out their ballots.
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Voters’ message: No taxes, no bail, no privatization

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington voters are an independent lot. There’s no way to put a party label on the way they voted on Tuesday’s ballot measures.

As they’ve demonstrated time and time again, they don’t like taxes and will repeal them, shrink them or prevent them almost every chance they get.

By approving Initiative 1053 almost two-to-one (as of Thursday), Washingtonians emphatically forbade the Legislature from enacting any new tax without either a two-thirds supermajority in both the House and Senate, or a vote of the people. The clear message: Don’t even think about squeezing more money out of us in the pit of this economic hell.

Initiative 1098 – the proposed income tax on high earners – got crushed by almost the same margin. Voters were rightly suspicious that the Legislature might spread that tax to lower income brackets in the next hard economy.

The fate of I-1098 will probably spook lawmakers away from the concept of a state income tax for another generation. If only voters had been offered a far better version: a constitutionally capped income tax that would reduce – not add to – the state’s excessive sales tax.

While they were at it, Washingtonians repealed the bottled water-and-soda tax the Legislature used to wire a balanced budget together in April. That means the state’s multi-billion-dollar fiscal crisis just got $272 million deeper.

Voters to Legislature: Deal with it.
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Initiatives: Many are filed, but few are sane

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Initiatives. Pity the state that lacks the political entertainment.

A few of this year’s bumper crop of ballot measures have gotten all the media, including Tim Eyman’s anti-tax measures, and proposals to create an income tax and legalize marijuana.

Also Initiative 1069, the brainchild of Orting’s James E. Vaughn, which would “require the Seal of the State of Washington to be changed to depict a vignette of a tapeworm dressed in a three- piece suit attached to the lower intestine of a taxpayer shown as the central figure.”

But those are just the beginning. Dozens and dozens of initiatives – an all-time record – have been registered with the secretary of state’s office this year. Some of the high points (or low points, if you prefer):
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