Noted Washington State Victories

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Voters Adopt Washington Policy Center Recommendations
on 4 of 4 Ballot Measures

Last week’s election didn’t turn out as many had hoped it would. Still, Washington Policy Center helped achieve some important policy victories, and we played a role in shaping the public debate throughout the campaign season. Our Citizens’ Guides and new Ballot Quick Guide provided concise commentary that cut to the heart of the issues. Our policy experts traveled the state speaking to media, community associations, chambers of commerce, students, and other groups about the ballot measures.

This year, we took positions on four important ballot measures that reflected our longstanding policy recommendations. I’m happy to report that we prevailed on all four measures.

  • Allowing charter public schools. Washington voters approved Initiative 1240, enacting what our education director Liv Finne calls “the strongest charter public school law in the country.” Implementation of the new law will begin soon. It will allow up to 40 charter schools to open in our state over five years. (Watch Liv Finne’s recent KING 5 News interview to learn about the next steps in bringing charter schools to our state.)
  • Requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. By passing Initiative 1185 for the fifth time, Washington voters made it clear they want broad consensus in the legislature to raise taxes. We are urging lawmakers to put the issue on the 2013 ballot as a constitutional amendment, to settle the issue once and for all and end the constant see-saw of enactment and repeal.
  • Lowering the state debt limit. SJR 8221 passed the legislature this year with bipartisan support. This constitutional amendment gradually lowers the state debt limit, making it more difficult for lawmakers to place financial burdens on future generations of Washingtonians. In September and October, our research on this measure was the number one Google search result on this topic!
  • Rejecting light rail in Vancouver. Voters in Clark County soundly rejected the Clark County Transit Authority’s Proposition 1, which would have increased the sales tax to fund light rail across the Columbia River. In October, a Washington Policy Center poll found a solid majority (57%) of Clark County voters are opposed to using any taxes or fees for light rail.

Today we released a Memo to Washington’s New Governor, which outlines policy priorities on everything from state spending to transportation and our business climate. Lawmakers will face tremendous challenges when they convene in January, and we’ll be there every step of the way to promote good ideas and shine a light on the bad ones.

Elections come and go, but we and the principles that guide our work are here to stay. For more than 20 years we have been advancing sound public policy and free-market solutions that benefit the people of Washington. This year, as in past years, our ideas won at the ballot box. There’s still much work to be done, and I hope you’ll join with us as we move ahead in 2013.


Dann Mead Smith
President, Washington Policy Center