Other initiatives affect your bottom line

2010-10-02T21:59:00Z 2014-12-20T13:01:06Z Other initiatives affect your bottom lineBy Erik Olson / InBusiness writer Longview Daily News
October 02, 2010 9:59 pm  • 

Other than the two liquor initiatives, Washington voters will have a say on seven other ballot measures on Nov. 2. Here’s a snapshot of each:

I-1053 - Supermajority for tax increases

What it says: "Restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval."

What it does: Makes it harder for state lawmakers to raise taxes by requiring a two-thirds majority supermajority instead of a simple majority in both chambers. Voters approved a similar measure in 2007, I-960, but gave lawmakers the option to suspend the measure within two years. This spring, a simple majority of lawmakers voted to suspend the supermajority requirement and passed an $800 million tax package.

Who's for it: Tim Eyman, the state's best-known writer of ballot initiatives, business groups, oil companies and banks. An aggregate total of $1.2 million has been raised in support of the initiative. Proponents say the supermajority provision must be made permanent so legislators aren't tempted to raise taxes during tough economic times.

Who's against it: Labor unions in Washington, which have raised less than $50,000 thus far for their campaign. Labor spokesmen say I-1053 can give too much power to a minority of lawmakers and could create gridlock in the Legislature.

I-1082 - Privatize workers' comp insurance

What it says: "Authorize employers to purchase private industrial insurance beginning July 1, 2012; direct the legislature to enact conforming legislation by March 1, 2012; and eliminate the worker-paid share of medical-benefit premiums."

What it does: Gives business owners the option to buy private insurance for workers injured or killed on the job. Currently, businesses and workers must pay into the state's Worker Compensation Fund or prove they are financially solvent enough to self-insure. Private insurance companies, which would be regulated by the state's insurance commissioner, will capture about half the industrial insurance market by 2013, according to the state's Office of Financial Management.

Who's for it: The Building Industry Association of Washington, insurance companies and business lobbies, which have raised $1.37 million for the campaign. The BIAW and Liberty Mutual Group, a Delaware-based insurance company, have spent $500,000 each in support of I-1082.

Supporters say a private option would lower insurance rates by adding competition to the market. This year, the state Department of Labor and Industries, which administers the Worker Compensation fund, raised premium rates 7.6 percent, costing numerous businesses thousands of dollars.

Who's against it: State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, state Auditor Brian Sonntag, both Democrats, labor unions and trial lawyers. Two campaigns, Stop Insurance Industry Takeover and No on 1082, have raised about $1.8 million.

Opponents call I-1082 a giveaway to the insurance industry, claiming it guts regulations on insurance and leaves small businesses vulnerable to rate increases.

I-1098 - High-earners' income tax

What it says: "Tax ‘adjusted gross income' above $200,000 (individuals) and $400,000 (joint-filers), reduce state property tax levies, reduce certain business and occupation taxes, and direct any increased revenues to education and health."

What it does: Taxes the wealthy. Married high-earners would pay a 5 percent tax on all income above $400,000. For couples making more than $1 million annually, the rate would on earnings above $1 million would jump to 9 percent and include a $30,000 flat tax. The initiative would generate more than $11 billion over five years, earmarked for a K-12 education trust fund and to help make college more affordable for low-income students.

Who's for it: Bill Gates Sr., father of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and a coalition of public employee unions. Gates put $400,000 of his own money into the $3.4 million campaign. Supporters say education and health services need another funding source, especially after 3,000 state teachers were laid off last year and 40,000 Washington residents were dropped from the state's Basic Health plan.

Who's against it: The Washington Farm Bureau, the Association of Washington Businesses and other business lobbying groups. The Defeat 1098 campaign has raised about $2.3 million. Opponents say the Legislature could expand the tax to include all taxpayers within two years if the state remains in a budget hole.

I-1107 -Eliminates taxes on sweets and soda

What it says: "End sales tax on candy; end temporary sales tax on some bottled water; end temporary excise taxes on carbonated beverages; and reduce tax rates for certain food processors."

What it does: Eliminates a three-year, $300 million tax package approved this year by state Democrats to offset a budget shortfall. The tax revenue generated from sales of some candy, soda and processed food would go into the state's general fund.

Who's for it: The American Beverage Association, the soda industry's Washington, D.C.-based lobbying arm, has spent about $15 million to fight the tax package and bring I-1107 to the ballot. Supporters say the tax increase targets middle-class families and businesses who can least afford it, and claim it lacks consistency. For example, candy containing flour is exempt, so Kit Kat bars are excluded because of their flour wafers but some nutritional bars are taxed.

Who's against it: A coalition of state employee unions and public health groups, who have raised a little more than $320,000 to defeat the initiative. They say the tax package is necessary to offset cuts to the state budget and it targets foods and beverages with little nutritional value.

Referendum 52 - Bonds for energy-efficient schools

What it says: "Authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects increasing energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings, and continue the sales tax on bottled water otherwise expiring in 2013."

What it does: Approves House Bill 2561, which sets aside $505 million in state bonds for constructing and/or refitting school buildings to be more energy efficient. Lawmakers also directed the bottled water tax, expected to generate about $55 million annually, to pay for a portion of the bonds. The rest will be paid by unspecified future state revenue.

Who's for it: Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, the Washington Education Association, public health educators, clean energy advocates and labor unions, who've raised about $300,000. They say old school buildings need to be fixed because they often contain asbestos and can be a breeding ground for mold and other toxins. They say the measure would create thousands of construction jobs and potentially save taxpayers million of dollars in energy costs.

Who's against it: State Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, and Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, say a higher debt load means the state will have a harder time paying for core services and that the referendum won't create enough jobs to justify the cost, They also claim the health risks of toxins are already addressed in other areas of state law. No group reported raising money against R-52.

Senate Joint Resolution 8225 Increase debt limit for public projects

What it says: "Require the state to reduce the interest accounted for in calculating the constitutional debt limit, by the amount of federal payments scheduled to be received to offset that interest."

What it does: Amends the state consitution to allows state to borrow more money for public projects. The Legislature passed the measure this year.

Who's for it: State Treasurer Jim McIntire and key Democratic state Senate budget writers say the measure is needed to take advantage of a new federal program that offers lower interest rates for government bonds. They say the measure is similar to refinancing a home mortgage at a lower rate and will not increase state debt.

Who's against it: Two Republican lawmakers, Rep. Mike Hope of Lake Stevens and Rep. Jim McCune of Graham, say the resolution risks overextending the state while the budget is in a projected $3 billion hole. Added debt could make future borrowing more difficult, they argue.

Engrossed Substitute House Joint Resolution 4220 Toughens bail standards in criminal cases

What it says: "Authorize courts to deny bail for offenses punishable by the possibility of life in prison, on clear and convincing evidence of a propensity for violence that would likely endanger persons."

What it does: Amends the state constitution to toughen bail standards for people accused of violent crimes. Both chambers of the Legislature approved the measure by a wide margin.

Who's for it: The bill was introduced into the Legislature after four Lakewood police officers were shot in a Tacoma coffee shop. The gunman, who had a history of violent crime, had been relased on bail days before the shooting after he had been arrested on eight felony charges, including rape. A coalition of public safety advocates sponsored the resolution.

Who's against it: Robert C Boruchowitz, a constitutional law professor at Seattle University, says the resolution gives judges the power to detain innocent people without recourse.

Source: The Washington Secretary of State's Office and the state Public Disclosure Commission


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