Governor signs Rep. Norm Johnson’s bill to increase ballot measure information in Voters’ Pamphlet
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill today aimed at helping voters better understand the fiscal impacts of a ballot measure before they vote. House Bill 2055 was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima, following voter approval in November of Initiative 1351, which directed the Legislature to allocate funds to reduce class sizes and increase staffing support for K-12 students.
“The idea behind the initiative is commendable. We don't want to overload our classrooms with students and not give them the attention they need,” said Johnson.
“At the same time, however, I don't think people quite understood the fiscal ramifications of the initiative when they voted on it. We've been told it could cost from four billion to seven billion dollars to enact this initiative. The measure never specified to voters where that money would be allocated from, and we don't have that kind of money lying around the Capitol,” he added. “It would either mean raising taxes substantially, drastic cuts in other services or both. I don't think that's what voters want and I feel they should have been better informed about this initiative in the Voters' Pamphlet.”
Under the bill, the secretary of state would request an explanatory statement from the Attorney General's office and a fiscal impact statement from the Office of Financial Management (OFM), and a timeline for those offices to meet the requests in order to be printed in the Voters' Pamphlet. Those statements would also be provided in advance to the committees who are developing arguments for and against each measure.
“By providing the explanatory and fiscal statements in advance to the pro and con committees, it will help them create more informative arguments in their statements that also appear in the Voters' Pamphlet,” noted Johnson. “When voters are more informed, they can make better choices on the ballot. In turn, this helps everyone and ensures better policies for our state.”
The governor vetoed one portion of the bill involving the expedited statement from OFM. Johnson said officials in the Secretary of State's office have assured him the partial veto should have little effect against the intent of the legislation since they plan to work with OFM to ensure timely delivery of the fiscal impact statement.
###Washington State House Republican Communications