Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Washington Voting 2007: Resolution 8206

My ballot arrived by mail today, so it's time to try and swing things in our state in favor of good policies once again.

One of the items that really has my attention and interest is Resolution 8206, a proposal to change our state's constitution to authorize the establishment of a "budget stabilization account."

Basically, it would require that 1% of general state revenues be transfered into this account, and more if the legislature so desires. It is also stated on the ballot that expenditures from the account shall be prohibited except as set forth in the amendment.

This prompted me to see what the conditions on expenditures are. There's the stuff you would expect, such as natural disasters, but then I found this whopper in the proposed subsection (d) of the new amendment text:

"(iii) Any amount may be withdrawn and appropriated from the budget stabilization account at any time by the favorable vote of at least three-fifths of the members of each house of the legislature."[emphasis mine]

Maybe it's just me, but in a Democrat dominated state legislature, does this sound to anyone else like a proposal to create a lidless cookie jar?

Full text of Resolution 8206: http://www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/text/SJR8206.pdf

7 comments:

April E. Coggins said...

We voted no. Christine has a tendency to name anything and everything she believes to be a worthy cause an "emergency." We voted and passed a similar measure a number of years ago and the money has now been looted by feel-good, vote bribing politicians. A perfect example is the latest measure to put tracking devices on sex offenders. This may be a worthy cause, but it is being funded out of the "emergency" budget. This is not an emergency as most people would define emergency. It would fall under unfunded mandate.
Heck, the new unfunded law for parental leave may be declared an emergency, eating up what the taxpayer intended to set aside for earthquakes.

Ray Lindquist said...

April, I would agree, it is worthy of a BIG fat NO.
I think it would be a kick to get together over at
Tam's Place 1005 E Main St Pullman WA 99163
It would be a "NO-Host" chat to talk over all of these options we have. Lets pick a date and do it soon if possible.

SVC Alumnus Blogger said...

I think your attitudes leave a lot to be desired. This is better than nothing :-). Just getting this was a nasty fight and trust me, a whole lot of Democrats will vote NO on even this sensible plan to put away money in the event of an economic downturn or worse.

So I hope you reconsider.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

svc -

If they take away the third condition under which funds may be withdrawn from the account, sure, I would reconsider. I don't think it's a bad idea, but with that particular method of access to the funds being part of the amendment, it becomes a terrible idea. I expect that this fund will be all to happily raided again and again for pet projects, with the ready made excuse that the expenditures are "not coming from the general fund." It's going to be a permanent 1% "earmark" for any project someone might dream up in the future in its present form.

April E. Coggins said...

In 1993 voters approved Initiative 601, which was supposed to set aside money for "emergencies."

Excerpted from: http://www.smartvoter.org/1998nov/wa/state/meas/refb49/

"Initiative 601, enacted by the voters in the 1993 general election, created a state expenditure limit and, with certain exceptions, requires that revenues received in excess of the limit be placed in reserve accounts and not spent. One provision of Initiative 601, codified as RCW 43.135.035, would require the expenditure limit to be lowered to reflect any transfer of money from the general fund to other funds or accounts."

I can find story after story of the emergency fund being tapped for non-emergency expenditures, this is the latest example:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003956753_websexoffenders17m.html

"Nearly a month ago, Gregoire ordered the state Department of Corrections to begin using global positioning system (GPS) tracking for 50 of the state's most dangerous sex offenders. She doled out $400,000 from an emergency budget to defray the costs."

Obiviously the fund exists or she wouldn't be able to tap into it.

April E. Coggins said...

SVC: Which Democrats are against it? There seem to be quite a few for it, including the current governor and former Gov. Locke. From my little bit of reading, this resolution originated with the Democrats.

Frank said...

Thanks for the info, it was the first result when I searched "washington 8206". Aside from the fact that it seems that the money can be withdrawn by 3/5 vote for any reason, it isn't clear to me exactly what "budget stabilization" this money is supposed to accomplish in he first place. Sounds good after a skim-read, I think that is what the intent was... and despite my own NO vote it will probably pass because I doubt most will research it past the first skim.