House approves Rep. Norm Johnson’s bill to help voters know fiscal impacts of ballot measures
When Initiative 1351 to reduce class sizes in Washington's K-12 public school system was approved by just under 51 percent during last November's General Election, some believe voters may not have fully understood how much it would cost to implement or where the money would come from.
Rep. Norm Johnson wants to change that on future ballot measures. Johnson is the author of House Bill 2055, which would allow responses to fiscal impact statements on ballot measures to be included in the state Voters' Pamphlet.
The measure passed the Washington House of Representatives today (Wednesday), 97-1.
“It is a laudable goal to reduce class sizes in Washington's schools and allow teachers and kids to get more one-on-one time together. However, I don't think voters fully understood that it could cost between four- and seven-billion dollars to implement this goal. There was never any funding source attached to this initiative. And you know, we don't just have seven billion dollars laying around the Capitol,” said Johnson, R-Yakima.
Johnson believes if voters would have been more fully informed about the fiscal impacts of the initiative, it likely would not have passed statewide. In fact, the measure failed in Johnson's 14th District by 56 percent.
The bill would allow supporting and opposing statements to be included in the Voter's Pamphlet, along with a fiscal impact statement prepared by the Office of Financial Management, and a statement from the Attorney General's office explaining the ballot measure.
“This legislation would help to promote transparency of the content within ballot measures so that voters can make fully-informed decisions that would clearly be in the best direction for Washington state,” added Johnson.
The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
###Washington State House Republican Communications