The 2010 election year presented the state of Washington with a record 76 initiatives filed with the secretary of state.
However, only six initiatives had the required number of signatures to make it to the November 2 ballot. The Northern Light took a look at each initiative to explore the pros and cons and who is supporting them.
Ballots for the 2010 general election on November 2 were mailed on Wednesday, October 13.
I-1053 would require any state tax increase be approved by a two-thirds majority vote in each house of the state legislature. The initiative would reverse a 2010 legislative decision that suspended existing rules that required increases must be approved by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature.
Initiative proponents say voters want more control over tax increases and that the initiative would help reign in Washington’s spending. Opponents believe the initiative would gridlock any tax-raising measures that might be necessary to run the state.
Major contributors for Citizens for Responsible Spending, a group formed to support I-1053, include the Washington State Farm Bureau and Tesoro Corporation, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. The Farm Bureau spent $50,000 in
June to support the initiative while Texas-based Tesoro gave $25,000 on October 7.
Citizens for Responsible Spending has raised a total of $470,200 since June.
The No on I-1053 Committee has received $20,000 of their money from the Joint Council of Teamsters #28, based in Seattle. The Washington branch of the American Federation of Teachers has contributed $12,000 to the $52,646 the committee has raised since June.
Initiative 1082 would allow employers to purchase private industrial insurance beginning July 1, 2012. Currently, the state has an industrial insurance program administered by the Department of Labor and Industries. Employers must participate in the state insurance plan or be certified as self-insured.
If passed, industrial insurance premiums paid to the state are expected to decrease $1.1 billion to $1.43 billion by 2014 as employers shift to private insurance, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Proponents of I-1082 say the state’s insurance program is charging employers too much in insurance premiums and that passage of the initiative would allow private insurance companies to compete, thereby lowering rates. Opponents fear the initiative would allow private insurance companies to charge employers high insurance premiums with virtually no governmental oversight.
Save Our Jobs Washington, a committee formed to support I-1082, has raised about $2.5 million since May. Top contributors to this committee include the Building Industry Association of Washington ($500,000) and New Hampshire-based insurance company Liberty Mutual Group ($300,000).
I-1082 has spawned two committees against the initiative. No On I-1082 has raised about $2.1 million since May. Its top contributor is another committee against I-1082, Stop Insurance Industry Takeover, which contributed $450,000 on September 30.
Stop Insurance Industry Takeover itself has raised about $1.2 million since May. Its top funders include the Washington State Association for Justice, a group of Washington trial lawyers, with $100,000 and Seattle law firm Schroeter, Goldmark and Bender with $50,000.
Initiative 1098 would establish a state income tax of 5 percent on individual taxable incomes of $200,000 or more and jointly filed incomes of $400,000 or more. The measure would also reduce state property tax levies, reduce certain business and occupation rates and funnel any increased revenues to education and health.
Beginning in 2012, the income taxis projected to increase state revenue by about $11.2 billion over five years. The increased revenue would be used exclusively for educational and health services.
Proponents argue the tax will only affect the wealthiest percentage of Washington’s population and will help lower income and middle class families, in addition to funding educational and health programs. Opponents say the tax will be eventually applied to all income levels with no guarantee where the funds are spent.
Seven committees, four for and three against, have registered with the Public Disclosure Commission as being affiliated with I-1098, but only four have raised any money.
Top backers of I-1098 include Washingtonians for Education Health and Tax Relief, which has raised about $5.2 million since April. Its top funder is the Service Employees International Union with $500,000 contributed in September. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has also given $400,000 in support.
Protect Washington has raised about $55,000. Its top contributor is the Washington D.C.-based Ballot Initiative Strategy Center with $50,000 contributed in August.
Defeat 1098 has raised $4.5 million since June—its top contributors include the CEOs of Amazon.com and Microsoft, Jeff Bezos and Steve Ballmer, respectively, with each giving $100,000 in September.
Initiatives 1100 and 1105
I-1100, along with I-1105, would effectively privatize the sale of liquor in Washington. I-1100 would close all state liquor stores and authorize private stores to sell, distribute and import types of alcohol other than beer and wine.
I-1105 would provide licensing to private stores wishing to sell liquor and allow beer and wine sellers to buy directly from makers rather than through distributors.
The secretary of state estimates state revenue will decrease by $76 million to $85 million over the next five years if the initiatives are approved.
Proponents of I-1100 and I-1105 say the initiatives will allow lower prices on hard liquor, which only the state currently sells, and create jobs in the private sector. Opponents argue the dregulation will go too far and will cost the state millions in revenue.
The Modernize Washington/ Yes 1100 Committee has raised about $3 million since March. Top contributors include Costco with about $1.3 million contributed since July and Safeway with about $63,000 contributed since August. Large retailers expect to see lower costs by being able to purchase directly from breweries and wineries.
Bellevue-based Odom Southern Holdings, a wholesale beverage distributor, has contributed about $1 million of the $2.2 million pro-I-1105 committee Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform has raised since June.
Protect Our Communities, the anti-I-1100 committee, has raised about $8.4 million since May. Its top contributors include the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Beer Institute, the beer industry’s main lobbying organization. Each group has raised $2 million to defeat I-1100.
Initiative 1107 would repeal the sales tax imposed on candy and the sales tax on bottled water in addition to ending the excise taxes on carbonated beverages and reducing tax rates for certain food processors. The taxes on bottled water and candy went into effect on June 1 of this year, and the soda tax became effective July 1.
Over five years, the repeal of these taxes would reduce the state’s general fund revenues by an estimated $352 million.
Proponents say the taxes have hurt both Washington food producers and consumers and favor out-of-state producers over local ones. Opponents say repeal would mean even less funding for necessary state programs, such as education.
Stop the Food and Beverage tax Hikes, the pro-I-1107 committee, has raised about $14.2 million since May. The American Beverage Association has raised about $1.4 million for the committee.
The anti-I-1107 committee, Citizens to Protect Our Economic Future, has raised about $393,000. Top contributors include the Community Health Network of Washington and the Washington Federation of State Employees, which have each given $60,000.
In addition to the six initiatives, the ballot will also include one bill and two state constitutional amendments that require voter approval.
Referendum 52 would authorize the state to borrow $505 million in the form of bonds to fund projects to improve the energy efficiency of public schools and universities.
The first constitutional amendment on the ballot would change the way the state calculates the constitutional debt limit. The amendment would require the state to subtract any money it gets from the federal government when calculating how much annual interest it has to pay on existing debt. The amendment could increase the amount of debt the state may incur, according to the secretary of state’s office.
The second constitutional amendment would allow state courts to deny bail for offenses punishable by the possibility of a life sentence. Current state law allows for bail to be denied for offenses only punishable by the death penalty.