Washington unions want state lawmakers to ask voters for more tax revenue to stave off deep budget cuts, but that’s not the only thing they want on a spring ballot.
The State Labor Council also is pushing for a bond measure to stimulate the job market through construction on state, college and public-school buildings, on storm-water pollution control projects and more, all across the state. The Legislature can’t borrow more under the state’s constitutional debt limit, but voters can go around the limit.
The goal: $2 billion in bonds.
That would be on top of the Legislature’s two-year, $1.1 billion bond budget, which is constrained by the debt limit, and would go toward many of the same purposes. It would be roughly four times the size of a bond measure for energy-efficient school upgrades that voters rejected in 2010. As on that measure, Democratic Rep. Hans Dunshee is expected to take the lead on it.
Union leaders said they learned a lot from the failure of Referendum 52 — “Hans bonds” to Capitol denizens — and believe voters will be more supportive of a broader array of projects, especially with the economic downturn lasting longer than most thought it would and the construction industry remaining among the hardest hit.