Here’s what we’re debating with Initiative 1033: How fast should the government grow and who should decide?
I-1033 takes the position that the public sector should grow at the same rate as the private sector — unless voters OK a bigger increase — and it should be the citizens, and not the politicians, who decide.
I-1033 brings back successful policies passed by the voters previously. In 1993, during tough economic times, voters approved Initiative 601, which put reasonable limits on government’s fiscal policies. I-601 established a sustainable rate for government to grow, saying it could grow at the inflation rate plus population growth with faster growth requiring voter approval.
And I-601 worked very well for 12 years until 2005 when Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Democrats got rid of the growth limit. Removing I-601’s reasonable fiscal discipline and policies resulted directly in a massive deficit ($9 billion).
Repealing I-601’s limit in 2005 allowed them to take their budget on a fiscal roller coaster, overextending themselves in good times — creating unsustainable budgets — which inevitably made the bad times even worse.
I-1033 gets us off that fiscal roller coaster by re-establishing I-601’s same reasonable allowance for growth while permitting higher increases with voter approval. I-601 worked, it can work again with the passage of I-1033. So what happens to excess tax revenues that government collects above I-1033’s limit?
First, a fixed percentage of tax revenue is transferred into the constitutionally protected rainy day fund. Beyond that, the remainder of excess tax revenues gets refunded to taxpayers via lower property taxes.
Under I-1033, everyone’s property taxes will be reduced. Struggling working families and fixed-income senior citizens desperately need relief from our state’s crushing property tax burden. Washington shouldn’t be a state where only rich people can afford a home. I-1033 provides needed, long-overdue property tax relief.
I-1033 provides fiscal discipline with flexibility: Any revenue from any source deposited into general funds is limited except voter-approved revenues, rainy day funds and federal funds for the state and except voter-approved revenues for counties and cities.
Putting a reasonable limit on the growth of government, like I-601 previously did, gives politicians the excuse to say "no" to the special-interest groups and encourages them to finally start prioritizing and reforming government.
Opponents have no alternative to I-1033 to lower property taxes. Opponents have no alternative to I-1033 to get government off the fiscal roller coaster.
Opponents want us to trust the politicians, despite their insatiable appetite for higher taxes. Opponents ignore the 16 years of positive history with Initiative 601 in Washington state, preferring instead to talk about different tax limits in California, Colorado and other states.
Opponents are against I-1033 because it allows the people, and not the politicians, to decide how fast the government should grow and how big a tax burden we can afford.
Opponents know that Washington’s 12 years under I-601 worked and that’s why they want to get everyone to look at other states. But other states have totally different proposals and policies that are unique to them.
Washington state has its own experience with I-601 — 12 years with it, four years without it. And what happened without I-601’s fiscal discipline? A fiscal roller coaster ending with a $9 billion budget shortfall. Opponents want higher taxes and a state income tax. Opponents are against any limit on government’s power to take as much as they want from the taxpayers.
Both Forbes magazine and the Tax Foundation rank Washington as the eighth highest taxed state in the nation. I-1033 keeps us from hitting No. 1.
Property taxes keep going higher and higher and government keeps getting bigger and bigger. The people are losing control. I-1033 allows the state, counties and cities to grow, but at a rate that citizens can control and taxpayers can afford. I-1033 gets government off the fiscal roller coaster, allowing it to grow at a sustainable rate that doesn’t outpace taxpayers’ ability to afford it.
I-1033 is needed now more than ever. We’re very hopeful that voters will support controlling the growth of government and lowering property taxes by approving I-1033.