The bottom line on Washington’s 2010 ballot measures

When lawmakers come back to Olympia next January, they’ll face an estimated $3 billion revenue shortfall thanks to the ongoing recession/weak recovery – and that’s on the heels of about $5.2 billion in cuts over the past three years. So how will this year’s ballot measures impact the budget? The Washington Budget and Policy Center has the answers.

In what could be termed the “trying to get out of a hole with a shovel” department:

  • Initiative 1107: Repeals mostly temporary taxes on non-essentials. Cost: $272 million to education and health care.
  • Initiatives 1100 and 1105: Privatizes some or all of the state liquor system. Costs: $115 million-$123 million (I-1100), $513 million-$547 million (I-1105), for wide range of public investments.
  • Initiatives 1053: Requires a supermajority to raise taxes or fees, making it more difficult to take a balanced approach to dealing with our priorities. Cost: Remember that projected $3 billion revenue shortfall? Probably most of that.
  • Initiative 1082: Allows private insurers to sell workers compensation insurance. Cost: up to $202 million in lost premium payments from state employees, higher administrative and oversight costs.

And in the “actually fixing the hole” department:

  • Initiative 1098: Creates a tax on high-incomes to help fund education and health care and cuts taxes for small businesses and property owners. Benefits: $1.6 billion for education; $686 million for Basic Health Plan, $393 million to lower property taxes, $259 million to lower business taxes.
  • Referendum 52: The Budget and Policy Center doesn’t cover this one, so here’s the deal: R-52 will pay for itself via reduced energy costs, by fixing our schools to make them safer and more efficient. It’s estimated the measure will also create 30,000 jobs statewide.

You can read a short summary about each measure here, or follow the links above for more details.

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