ESJR 8221 (Washington State)

Posted 20 October 2012 by
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Vote NO.

Normally, when I see State Rep. Hans Dunshee (D) supports something, I am favorably disposed to it. Not this time, though.

(Never fear, fellow Democrats. I agree with State Sen. Maralyn Chase (D) on this one.)

My reasoning is different from the “no” argument in the Voter’s Pamphlet. My concern is how you are going to pay for the increased authority to borrow with this change to the state constitution.

Increased authority?

On the surface, it looks like a reduction. The percentage goes from 9% down to 8%. However, they get to count a much larger pot of money to calculate that percentage with this amendment.

Currently, the amount of interest and principal payments must not go over 9% of “general state revenue” based on a three-year average. Basically, “general state revenue” is non-earmarked tax revenue. The state property tax for schools is earmarked revenue, and does not count towards calculating this amount.

The amendment would eventually lower the amount of interest and principal payments to 8% based on a six-year average, but changing what counts as “general state revenue.” I can agree with the six-year average, as it would reduce the effects of revenue spikes and dips. However, counting the school property tax revenue as “general state revenue” will greatly increase the borrowing limit.

So, what current state programs would you cut to pay the increased borrowed amounts?

We do not borrow to meet operational expenses. This increased borrowing authority can only be for capital expenses. However, the state must repay it with “general state revenue.” I cannot get a definitive answer whether “general state revenue” would or would not include earmarked school property tax revenue for purposes of repaying the loans. At any rate, we do not have enough money for operational expenses now.

Are we supposed to cut operational expenses (schools, Medicaid and other welfare programs, prisons, and police) so we can borrow more?

I don’t think so.

Do the supporters of this constitutional amendment have something up their sleeves to pay for increased borrowing without cutting operational expenses?

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