With three nonbinding advisory votes on the November ballot, voters get a chance to weigh in on the tax plan the Legislature approved this year to help pay for schools.
The Legislature just spent seven months coming up with a complicated plan to fix how the state pays for schools. Now, Washington citizens get to weigh in on those tax changes, through a series of nonbinding advisory votes on the November ballot.
While the state Supreme Court has yet to rule on whether lawmakers’ K-12 schools plan goes far enough, voters should vote in support of the underlying taxes anyway. They reflect some of the tough compromises lawmakers made this year to respond to the high court’s McCleary decision, which said the state is failing to fully fund its public schools.
Required by voter-approved Initiative 960, the tax advisory votes have no practical effect, except to send a message to the Legislature about what voters are thinking. Voters should choose to maintain:
Advisory Vote No. 18: One of the tax measures, House Bill 2242, is the backbone of the McCleary solution. It raises the statewide property tax by about 82 cents per $1,000 in assessed value, generating about $1.6 billion for public schools over the next two years. Down the road, the legislation also caps local school-district property taxes to soften the blow of the statewide tax hike.
No. 17: House Bill 2163 will raise more than $400 million in revenue over the next two years by tweaking certain tax breaks. Among other things, the bill ends a sales-tax exemption for bottled water and narrows an extracted-fuel tax break that has been criticized for benefiting oil refineries. It also collects taxes from online shoppers by imposing new rules on internet retailers, such as eBay.
No. 16: House Bill 1597 raises about $1 million over two years by increasing commercial fishing license fees.
The bills up for advisory votes this year were part of a hard-fought budget geared toward meeting the state’s education obligations. Voters should acknowledge the Legislature’s efforts on that front with a vote of confidence on all three tax measures.
Lawmakers in turn should perfect and build upon their work when they return to Olympia in January.