A quick take on booze, candy, new taxes and criminals

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OK, here’s a quick survey for you just in time for the upcoming General Election on Nov. 2.

Are you in favor of keeping current sales taxes on candy, bottled water and soda pop?

How about getting rid of state liquor stores and letting your local mini mart sell hard liquor?

Or setting a new income tax for individuals with income more than $200,000 per year?

If you answer to these questions was a glazed over “huh?”, you’re likely among the majority who haven’t yet read the details of the six initiative measures and three referendum bills on the ballot this general election. And who can blame you? Talk about dry reading material!

However, these initiatives will likely at some point have some effect, large or small, on all of us. So, after plowing through each ballot wording in the voters pamphlet, here’s our short take on them and our opinion.

Initiative 1053 — Puts back into effect requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majority. This requirement for raising taxes is currently the law, voted in by the citizens of Washington. Yet the legislature temporarily suspended its effect this year. Sound ridiculous? We agree. The voters have spoken on this issue. Now it’s time to enforce it. Our opinion is yes.

Initiative 1098 — Would tax income for individuals making over $200,000 per year and couples making over $400,000 per year. Sounds tempting to vote for, especially the middle class tax cuts and elimination of the B&O tax for small businesses, proponents say would happen. But, bottom line is this would be a new income tax in a state where there currently is none. Washington dearly needs to maintain our current income tax advantage. Our opinion is no.

Initiatives 1100 and 1105 — Would close state liquor stores and authorize sales of hard liquor by private business. Our question here is what’s wrong with the current system? With state liquor stores, tighter controls are placed on hard liquor sales. Currently, hard liquor isn’t sold at mini marts until 2 a.m., but it would be if these measures are passed. And one report says revenue lost to the state, if these measures pass, is estimated at $275 million. The system is not broken. So why break it with these poorly written initiatives? Our opinion is no on both measures.

Initiative 1107 — Would end current sales tax on candy, some bottled water products and soda pop. Admittedly the current tax is not completely fair. It was designed to tax non-essential food items, such as candy and soda pop that are unhealthy and ultimately place a drain on state health care resources. We agree the law needs fixing. Bottled water and granola bars should not be taxed. But until there is a substitute measure to tax only the true culprits in our grocery stores, these current taxes should be continued. Our opinion is no.

Referendum Bill 52 -Would authorize bonds to finance construction in schools and higher education buildings for energy efficiency. We’re all for energy efficient school buildings, but there’s a better way to finance them than with this bill. Referendum 52 allows the state to go into deep debt, up to $505 million, by issuing bonds to be repaid from future revenue. That sounds way too risky to us in this economy. Our opinion is no.

House Joint Resolution 4220 —- Would authorize courts to deny bail for more criminals charged with violent crimes. Under current law a judge can only deny bail to a suspect charged with aggravated murder. Voting yes gives judges the flexibility to keep more dangerous offenders behind bars while awaiting trial. Our opinion is yes.

We hope you take time to read the measures and cast your vote before General Election Day, Nov. 2.