Looking for my explanations about the other issues on your ballot? Check out my full recommendations here.
On your ballot, which you will be receiving soon, there are a couple of unusual measures. Tucked between marriage equality and legalization of marijuana, but before you get to governor, or Jason Overstreet, there are some “Senate Joint Resolutions” and “Advisory Vote of the People” measures that have received almost zero news coverage and can be rather confusing. Most of these measures are things the legislature passed . . . but wanted to get a second opinion on. Mainly, yours. Here is my brief explanation of each issue and my recommendation.
Amendment to the State Constitution, Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution No. 8221: This measure would implement the recommendations of the State Debt Commission. The Commission was an actually bipartisan effort to examine our state debt limits and determine the best way to give our state the financial flexibility it needs to restart our economy. Our state constitution puts very strict limits on what sort of debt our government can incur. Unlike the federal government, we cannot run a deficit, but we can have a so-called “working debt.” This measure would reduce the amount of “working debt” allowed from 9% of our general fund down to 8%, but would also update the way we calculate that debt. You can read the commission’s findings here. This makes sense to me and was passed with a solid bipartisan majority out of both the Senate and the House, so I’m going to say, vote APPROVED.
Amendment to the State Constitution, Senate Joint Resolution No. 8223: This one is a little easier. It would give Washington State University and the University of Washington the ability to take their state dollars and invest them in the stock market in hopes of making a profit that they would then turn around and use on education. Right now, most universities can do that with donor dollars, especially large endowed scholarships, but are forbidden to do it with state dollars. This is a bad idea. Could WSU and UW make a bit of money and fund education? Sure. But not terribly likely, and certainly not with the public’s money. If we want to fund education, let’s do that. Let’s not send our universities to the Wall Street casino in hopes they do our job for us. Vote REJECTED.
Advisory Vote No. 1, Engrossed Senate Bill 6635: This bill is aimed at fixing some of the major complaints about the Business and Occupation Tax. It extends the tax deduction to several agriculture businesses, it closes some of the tax loopholes banks have been exploiting, and exempts some distilleries from licensing fees. It isn’t a complete fix, the B & O Tax still hits some small businesses harder than it should, but this cleans up several major complaints. Vote MAINTAINED.
Advisory Vote No. 2, Substitute House Bill 2590: This bill extends the tax on petroleum possession (shipping and refining) to create a pollution insurance fund so that if a disaster does happen, we will have the money to deal with the situation. Previously, this tax was set to expire and the money in that fund would have been turned over to the general fund. This measure keeps the insurance fund separate and the tax in place. Let’s be prudent and vote MAINTAINED.
Port of Bellingham, Prop. 1: Number of Port Commissioners. Remember when Port Commissioner Scott Walker decided to go on a rampage and sack our highly successful Port Executive Charlie Sheldon a few short months after he started the job? Remember how Scott Walker drummed up a few disgruntled staff members to hide behind while he illegally held meetings on how to remove Sheldon? Remember how he lied to the public, repeatedly, and then tried to cover his own behind? Are you fed up yet? Let’s get some fresh faces, and more of them. Having only three public officials controlling our port is far too few considering the breadth and scope of their influence. Vote YES.
That’s it for those obscure headscratchers. This Saturday, I will post my official voting recommendations, but for now, this is a good warm up for some of the under-reported issues on your ballot.