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Taking a Stand on Ballot Issues

The League of Women Voters never endorses candidates, but it does take positions on issues.
On the two statewide ballot issues in the Nov. 3 election, the League recommends voting yes on Referendum 71 and no on Initiative 1033.
R-71 endorses the so-called “everything but marriage” bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year and signed by the governor. It provides equal rights equivalent to those of married couples to couples the same sex and unmarried senior couples.
I-1033, sponsored by Tim Eyman, would cap the growth of state, county and city general funds at the rate of inflation, plus population growth. Any revenue above the cap would be used to lower property taxes. Revenue increases above the cap would have to be approved by voters.
Here is more detail on the state League’s positions on the ballot issues, plus websites for more information on both sides of each:

Referendum 71

At the biennial State Convention, League members voted to take a YES position on this referendum because of our position opposing discrimination. R-71 asks voters to ratify a bill that was passed in the 2009 Legislature and signed by the Governor. The bill provides equal rights equivalent to those of married couples to couples of the same sex and all unmarried senior couples in many areas including:
Death benefits for partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Right to use sick leave to care for a seriously ill partner.
Pension benefits for partners of teachers and other public employees
Right to workers compensation benefits if a partner is killed in the course of employment
Victim’s rights
The League has joined with a coalition to do voter education, voter pamphlet statements and action. For more information, please go to the Yes on R-71 website:

LWV Positions:
League of Women Voters of the United States: “Secure equal rights and equal opportunity for all. Promote social and economic justice…”

League of Women Voters of Washington: “…no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination.” Position in Brief: Action to achieve equal rights for all.

Websites for more information:
Approve =
Disapprove =

Initiative 1033

At our August 7, 2009 board meeting, the LWVWA Board agreed to join the No on 1033 coalition. To clarify our position opposing the initiative, the Board made an August email board decision to oppose I-1033. At our regular board meeting on September 11th, we affirmed our opposition to Initiative 1033.

Based on our position regarding fair, open and flexible taxes, the Board believes this initiative is none of these. I-1033 is misleading and complicated. Limiting expenses through a rigid and arbitrary formula based on population growth and inflation, this initiative falls far short of being able to fund even our current levels of health care, education and other basic services. While I-1033 may sound good on the surface, limiting spending in this way will have many unintended consequences.

LWV Positions:
From LWVWA Principles: “…government should maintain an equitable and flexible system of taxation…”
Position In Brief: Action to obtain a balanced tax structure that is fair, adequate, flexible and has a sound economic effect.
The League of Women Voters of Washington believes that flexibility and recognition of changing times and needs is important in tax policy.

Websites for more information:
Pro =
Con =

2 thoughts on “Taking a Stand on Ballot Issues

  1. Voters beware. You’re advised to read Initiative 1033 before you vote. It is not as simple a measure as Tim Eyman wants you to believe it is. It proposes to radically alter our system of local control of government for our 39 counties and 281 cities in Washington State as well as our state government. It would impose a virtual freeze on all spending above this year’s recession level. It would require that all future spending of tax revenue above this year’s level would require budgeting by repeated referendum. It also radically changes current tax policy.

    You see Tim doesn’t trust us to elect our own representatives to run our cities and our counties. He thinks one size fits all and that everyone should believe as he does that our locally elected officials are not capable of making the right decisions. The right decision of course is that the best government is the smallest one and the one that taxes the least. It says nothing about local needs and priorities.

    Tim wants to take away all powers of our local elected officials to make any more budget decisions above the current level of spending. He says that budgeting by referendum is the answer for every city and county in the state.

    Elections cost money and are not a quick way or efficient way to approve budgets. Budgeting by referendum opens us up to more campaigning and decisions made by slogans and sound bites and campaign money.

    Are you and your neighbors ready to take on this new civic responsibility? Our lives are already pretty busy just working and taking care of our families. We’ve had representative democracy since our country was founded, electing people to make the business decisions every day that are needed to keep our communities livable and financially sound. I do not see any crisis that demands such a radical change as Eyman proposes.

    Under I-1033 any tax dollars above the baseline will be rebated to property owners if the public does not vote. One immediate problem is that not everyone owns property but we all pay sales taxes which last year made up 57% of our state revenue.

    So if you are a senior citizen or a working family and you don’t own property you’ll still pay the same taxes as before but you’ll see no tax rebate or increased public services. Some 35% of Washington households are occupied by renters according to the US Census Bureau.

    There are additional problems with this wealth distribution scheme that Eyman proposes. The amount of rebate that you get is not proportional to the sales taxes or other fees you pay but to the amount of property you own. So the more property you own the larger your rebate.

    But wait, did Tim also tell you that first some 40% of the rebate must go to pay commercial property taxes. Businesses already have a tax exemption on paying sales taxes on things they buy for resale. But they’ll still benefit under I-1033.

    That’s because Tim says that when more revenue comes in as the economy improves the one and only thing it should be used for is to pay property taxes unless voters vote for something else.

    Eyman says that that helping businesses and wealthy property owners pay their property taxes is more important than restoring any public services and jobs cut as a result of the current recession, or providing more money for schools or repairing roads or keeping parks and libraries open or hiring new police or fireman or investing in new infrastructure or helping seniors stay in their homes or paying for healthcare for seniors or children.

    So the decision is yours. Here are a few questions you should decide before you vote on Initiative 1033:

    1. Do you agree with Tim that your property taxes are so “obscene and unsustainable” that you’re ready to jettison our current system of local and state representative democracy and institute budgeting by repeated referendums?

    2. Do you think it’s necessary to permanently freeze public spending of not just the state but all 39 counties and 281 cities in our state at our current recession level?

    3. Do you think that paying the property taxes of corporations and businesses and shopping malls and real estate developers is more important than using sales taxes and other revenue for educating our children, providing health care for seniors and children, providing more police and fire protection, keeping libraries and parks open and fixing our roads and bridges?

    4. Do you support changing our state and local tax policy to prioritize transferring tax dollars collected from those without property, like renters and senior citizens and working families, to help pay the taxes of those with property?

    As I said I-1033 is not a simple measure. These are just a few of the questions this measure raises. Reading and understanding what Initiative 1033 does is important to do before you vote. As I said I-1033 is not a simple measure. These are just a few of the questions this measure raises.

    I agree with the League of Women Voters and urge you to vote No on I-1033. Times are tough enough with the current recession and we don’t need to make things worse.

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