Stuff I'm Voting For

Because "endorsements" sounds really grandiose for a one-woman blog, also I think the Smeall Blog pretty much has the endorsement thing covered.

So...  the election is coming up November 2nd, which means you have until October 4th to register, slackers. Although it's not a presidential election year, there are plenty of reasons why this election is not going to be one you want to sit out.  So, get yourself over to the Washington State Voter Registration Page where you can register (or change your address) online if you've got a WA state-issued ID.

Initiatives and Whatnot

Wow, there are a lot of initiatives on the ballot this season and with few exceptions, they all suck.  (Sorry for that fancy insider political terminology.)

Initiative 1053

On the ballot:  concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government. This measure would 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. Should this measure be enacted into law?

Voting:  NO!!!

Why? Because it's a huge waste of time and money to have to cobble together scarce parental resources into a ginormous campaign every time someone has to build a new school building, library, etc, and then have to run the campaign all over again when the measures pass with only 56% of the vote.   The voters still get to have their say, we're just not held hostage to a minority.  Also, we already voted YES to eliminate the 2/3rds requirement in the first place, and how annoying is it to see the same issue on the ballot not even 5 years later?  

Initiative 1082

On the ballot: Initiative Measure No. 1082 concerns industrial insurance. This  measure would 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 medicalbenefit premiums. Should this measure be enacted into law?

Voting: No, Thank you.

Why? I'm really not excited to see what private insurance companies would do to the worker's comp approval process.  I'm thinking that's not likely to benefit the average employee.

Initiative 1098

On the ballot: Initiative Measure No. 1098 concerns establishing a state income tax and reducing other taxes. This measure would tax “adjusted gross income” above $200,000 (individuals) and $400,000 (jointfilers), reduce state property tax levies, reduce certain business and occupation taxes, and direct any increased revenues to education and health. Should this measure be enacted into law?

Voting:  Yes, Please!

Why?  I don't know about you, but my family doesn't bring in $400,000 a year, and if we did you would have my permission to slap me if I complained about an income tax.   (What's that, yours does and you're mad about an income tax? You think you're part of the "middle class?" Slap yourself right now, over the right temple.  How do you feel about it now? ....never mind, I can't talk to you anymore.) Our current tax system is terrible, hitting the poor and middle class hardest by taxing homes and consumer products without regard to income.  Until we can establish some kind of sane income tax, our schools will always have their hand out with a new bond or levy come election season.  

Initiative 1100

On the ballot: Initiative Measure No. 1100 concerns liquor (beer, wine and spirits).  This measure would close state liquor stores; authorize sale, distribution, and importation of spirits by private parties; and repeal certain requirements that govern the business operations of beer and wine distributers and producers. Should this measure be enacted into law?

Voting:  No.

Why?  Don't get me wrong, Tacoma Mama is a huge wino enjoys the occasional drink in the evenings, but with a projected loss of revenue of $76 to 86 million for the state and $180 to 190 million for local governments, I don't think it's really worth it for the sake of being able to mix up a margarita at home any time I feel like it. 

1100 does at least leave intact the current liquor tax structure, however, which means that its fiscal impact is less severe than the other alcohol measure on the ballot.  Additionally, the ability to buy liquor directly from manufacturers and other retailers makes it the favorite of the Washington Restaurant Association.  Small grocers and wineries on the other hand fear that the ability of restaurants to buy liquor from Costco could push them right out of the market.  I am voting no on both initiatives because both would take money from state coffers at a time of budgetary crisis, however if you are too much of a wino to vote no convinced that privatization is worth it, 1100 is better for the state from a fiscal perspective, but worse for small wineries and grocers.

Initiative 1105

On the ballot: Initiative Measure No. 1105 concerns liquor (beer, wine and spirits).  This measure would close all state liquor stores and license private parties to sell or distribute spirits. It would revise laws concerning regulation, taxation and government revenues from distribution and sale of spirits. Should this measure be enacted into law?

Voting: No!

Why?  1105 is worse than 1100 from a fiscal standpoint, because it eliminates current state and local liquor taxes and replaces them with...  nothing.  According to the state's fiscal impact statement, 1105 would result in a $486 to $520 million loss on the state level, and a $205 to $220 million loss on the local level.  That's a lot of textbooks!  I think it would be kind of nice if the state got out of the liquor business, and I know it would stimulate the restaurant economy, but until we pass initiative 1098 or create some other meaningful tax reform, this is just irresponsible.

Initiative 1107

On the ballot: Initiative Measure No. 1107 concerns reversing certain 2010 amendments to state tax laws.  This measure would 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.  Should this measure be enacted into law?

Voting:  ....lemme think....   NO!

OK, now Mama's just getting irritated.  Who authored all these initiatives, a bunch of 12 year olds?  Actually a 12 year old would know better than to ask me for some FREAKING CANDY AND SODA after I just tried to explain very nicely that times are a little tough right now.  I said no candy.  And go clean your room.  

Referendum No.  52

On the ballot: The legislature has passed Engrossed House Bill No. 2561, concerning authorizing and funding bonds for energy efficiency projects in schools. This bill would 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. 

Voting:  Approved

According to the state's fiscal impact statement, this bill will cost $32.3 million dollars a year, but bottled water taxes will increase the general fund by $39.8 million a year.  We get more energy efficient schools in the deal, which seems like a win for everyone.  Big thumbs up from Mama.

Joint Resolution No. 8225

On the ballot: The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment concerning the limitation on state debt. This amendment would 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.

Voting:  uh...  could you repeat that? Um... the Seattle Times says we should vote for it, so OK.

Why?  According to the Seattle Times, this would not even be on the ballot were it not for a legal requirement that it be there.  Other states are doing it, and apparently there is some monetary benefit.

Joint Resolution No. 4220

On the ballot: The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on denying bail for persons charged with certain criminal offenses.  This amendment would 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.

Voting: Approved

Why?  Currently, in WA State criminal defendants can only be denied bail if they are accused of murder.  Unfortunately, there are other very heinous acts for which we might wish the accused could be held for a time without bail.  This would not change a defendant's right to a trial, but it would provide greater security to the public against the most dangerous of offenders.  This is the law in many states.

Coming soon (maybe, if I get around to it) part II:  Who I'm voting for.