Chamber Position Statements
Lakewood Chamber of Commerce
Oppose Proposition 1 - Pierce Transit Proposed Sales Tax Increase
The Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners passed a resolution calling for the 0.3 percent sales tax increase vote. That would be three cents on a $10 purchase.
The board said the increase is necessary to restore access to essential services for seniors, the disabled and people who rely on Pierce Transit.
Pierce Transit says it has cut or saved nearly $111 million dollars in response to the recession, including cutting nearly half of its bus service and 19 percent of its work force.
In addition to the concerns of how the money is being collected and used, the proposed tax increase is permanent. The Chamber feels that a sunset would have been a more appropriate way to respond to a temporary dip in revenues. Pierce Transit is in contract arbitration with Local 758 Amalgamated Transit Union. It is unclear how much of the additional revenues from a tax increase would go toward employee salaries opposed to service restoration. Pierce Transit receives 70% of its funding from local sales tax. The other 30% should be rounded out by ridership ~ and not the majority of the population who do not use transit services.
In these tough economic times when businesses and families are struggling and making cuts in their budgets, we think that Pierce Transit should do the same.
We believe that Pierce Transit must be fiscally responsible by limiting services and further reducing its overhead as we must. The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, in good conscience, cannot endorse this proposition on the behalf of our business community. ###
The Secretary of State's Office has certified I-1185 for the November ballot. If approved by voters, I-1185 will mark the fifth time in the last 20 years that voters have adopted the requirement for tax increases to receive a supermajority vote by our elected officials or voter approval.
I-1185 would replace I-1053, a similar initiative backed by the Lakewood Chamber and passed by voters in 2010. I-1185 is necessary because state law gives the Legislature the right to amend initiatives after two years with only a simple majority vote.
Lawmakers complain about the two-thirds rule, intimating that we underappreciate the difficulties of making law. We think they underappreciate the difficulties of paying more taxes. In a financially pinched age, the two-thirds rule does make work more difficult for them, but they can still raise taxes if enough of them want to. They did so this year by repealing an exemption for certain income of large multi-state banks, which was legally a tax increase.
Voters may be asking why the two-thirds rule keeps coming back. The state constitution says legislators cannot change a law passed by initiative for two years unless they have a two-thirds vote. Therefore, a two-thirds-for-taxes rule may be imposed on an unwilling Legislature for two years only.
Judge Bruce Heller of King County Superior Court recently ruled that the two-thirds requirement is unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court ultimately will decide this case – of which the three previous rulings were dismissed for lack of proper standing. In the meantime, people who like this limit on lawmakers should vote for it, democratically, again and again.
The voters of Washington have seen this proposal four times before and approved it each time. They should do so again.
The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors support the Official Ballot Title: The Pierce County Council passed Ordinance No. 2012-15s proposing to amend the Pierce County Charter (“Charter”). If approved, Proposed Charter Amendment No. 40 would amend the Charter to require that, after January 1, 2013, any “new Councilmanic tax” (as defined in Ordinance No. 2012-15s), may be levied or increased only by a minimum two-thirds vote of the Council; all as set forth in Ordinance No. 2012-15s.
Explanatory Statement: As presently written, Charter Section 2.20 authorizes the Council to levy taxes and increases in taxes by a majority vote. If approved, Proposed Charter Amendment No. 40 would amend Charter Section 2.20 to require a minimum two-thirds vote of the Council to impose any “new Councilmanic tax.”
For purposes of Proposed Charter Amendment No. 40, the term “new Councilmanic tax” means any tax the Council currently has authority to levy but has not yet done so, such as the mental health tax authorized by RCW 82.14.460, and any tax for which the Council is granted authority to levy by the Washington legislature after January 1, 2013. The term “new Councilmanic tax” does not include fees, rates and charges, special assessments, taxes
imposed by the Council on or before January 1, 2013, that are subject to renewal or reauthorization , such as the general property tax levy or the excess property tax levy.
Pierce County Councilman Roger Bush and Dick Muri began discussions about the need to challenge and curb the ability of future councils to raise taxes. The proposal started out as requiring all future Pierce County “Councilmanic” tax increases to require a vote of the people, but via amendment to a tougher standard of requiring five votes (two-thirds) of the council to raise taxes.
The Chamber Board agrees that fiscal responsibility is critical for all levels of government, and that this ordinance will bring serious discussion regarding the increase of future taxes to the residents of Pierce County.
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Initiative 1240, a measure that will appear on the November 2012 Washington statewide ballot, will allow up to 40 public charter schools in Washington state over a five-year period. These schools will be subject to strict oversight and public accountability, including annual performance reviews to evaluate their success in improving student outcomes. There will also be an evaluation at the end of the five-year period to determine whether additional public charter schools should be allowed.
Most other states already have public charter schools as part of the public school system. Washington is one of only 9 states where the option of public charter schools is still not allowed by state law.
Public charter schools across the country are helping thousands of public school students succeed. A yes vote on 1240 will finally allow the option of public charter schools for students here in Washington, too.
Washington state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn says on-time graduation rates are cause for concern, particularly among minority students, according to an interview he gave to the Tacoma News-Tribune. One-third of African-American and Hispanic students and close to half of Native American students still fail to graduate on-time from public schools in Washington public schools.
The crux of a healthy economy is an educated work force. The Chamber Board of Directors endorse an opportunity for all students in the state to succeed.
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