Monday, October 17, 2011
We urge voters to adopt both proposed amendments to the state constitution on the November General Election ballot.
Senate Joint Resolution 8206 will make the state's constitutionally mandated budget stabilization account -- also known as the Rainy Day Fund -- even stronger.
The proposal requires additional revenue be transferred to the Rainy Day Fund when there is "extraordinary revenue growth," which is essentially defined as growth one-third greater than the average growth over the past 10 years. The actual formula is far more complex, but the bottom line is that when times are really good the state can set aside cash for times when the economic situation is really bad.
This measure was approved unanimously in the Senate and by a 76-10 margin in the House. Those who oppose the measure argue the state already socks money away during good times and it is unnecessary to put away even more money when the state has unfunded needs.
Frankly, it is just this kind of thinking that has fueled the current fiscal crisis. It simply makes no sense to boost state expenses with cash from "extraordinary revenue growth" that likely won't be sustained over time. This will result in funding being cut when revenue growth returns to normal. What is gained? Nothing.
It makes far more sense to attempt to establish a sustainable level of funding and then set aside extra cash when revenue is up so the state won't have to make deep cuts and layoff employees when revenue is down.
The Rainy Day Fund is an important tool for fiscal stability. SJR 8206 makes it even more effective. We urge approval of this ballot measure.
The other measure on the ballot, Senate Joint Resolution 8205, was unanimously approved by the Senate and the House.
The measure fixes conflicting voter residency requirements in the state constitution. One part of the constitution allows a U.S. citizen to vote in state elections after residing in Washington for 30 days. But another section of the constitution requires 60 days of residency to vote in a presidential election.
Courts have ruled that the 30-day requirement applies to all elections.
This measure simply changes the constitution to reflect what is occurring and to bring consistency to the document.
We urge voters to approve SJR 8205, which will set the residence requirement to vote in Washington state at 30 days.