2010 Initiatives: Voters Will Face Tough Choices In November
It looks like voters will have significant choices to make this fall. Today, signatures for a number of initiatives with significant fiscal impacts will be submitted to the Secretary of State's office for review. These initiatives come at a crucial time in our state’s history.
Voters will be considering these measures in a context where current revenue expectations will be $3 billion short of the amount needed to continue our current commitments to education, communities, health, and economic security. What they decide will help determine our state’s ability to recover from the recession and maintain key public priorities.
Five initiatives in particular should be considered very carefully given that context:
- I-1107 would significantly reduce state resources in the current fiscal year and in coming years. It would repeal a portion of the revenue increases enacted earlier this year (along with one tax cut) -- increases that played a pivotal role in preventing painful and economically damaging cuts to essential public services. It would add $250-300 million to the fiscal gap faced by the state in the next three years. More
- I-1053 would greatly hamper lawmakers’ ability to take a responsible, balanced approach to our on-going economic problems. It would subject all future tax increases – no matter how small – to a public referendum vote, or a supermajority (two-thirds) vote in the legislature coupled with a nonbinding public advisory vote. These restrictions would undermine legislative flexibility and rational decision-making at time when these attributes are most needed. More
- Two initiatives (I-1100 and I-1105) would privatize the sale of liquor. The net impact of these measures on the state general fund is yet unclear, but it is likely that maintaining the same level of revenue as currently collected would require policymakers to act to increase taxes, something that would be even more difficult under I-1053.
- Another initiative (I-1098) would: 1) reduce the state property tax and eliminate the B&O tax for more small businesses, 2) create an income tax on high incomes (over $400,000 for couples, $200,000 for individuals), and 3) dedicate the net revenue (an estimated $1 billion per year) to education and health care. It is unclear how soon the state would start collecting revenue from I-1098, so it may not be a solution to the immediate problem. It would, however, be an important step toward long-term reform.