Senate Ways and Means Committee hears bill to add fiscal impact information to initiative ballot title

The Senate Ways and Means Committee heard testimony on SB 5715 Monday. (TVW coverage here. Testimony on the bill begins at the 15 minute mark.) As the Associated Press reports,

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Fain, R-Covington, seeks to include the fiscal impact of the measure on the actual ballot if it affects spending by more than $25 million over two years. The wording on the ballot would tell voters that “other state spending may need to be reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal.”

Testifying in favor of the bill were the Association of Washington Business, Washington Roundtable, Association of Washington Cities, Stand for Children, and League of Education Voters. The proponent’s arguments pointed out the benefits of giving voters more information (summarized in the bill report).

This year lawmakers are dealing with the $4.7 billion unfunded mandate imposed by the voters with the narrow passage of Initiative 1351. The measure has complicated budget deliberations this year. 

Opportunity Washington, in our research report, identified the importance of budget sustainability.

A commitment to sustainable budgeting replaces … uncertainty with stability, supporting long-range planning and assuring that a consistent level of vital services can be maintained in varying economic conditions.

Better voter information will enhance our chances of achieving long-term fiscal sustainability.