Confusing ballot wording for advisory votes
On the Washington State ballot, there is confusing wording for “Advisory Vote No. 1: Engrossed Senate Bill 6635” :
The legislature eliminated, without a vote of the people, a business and occupation tax deduction for certain financial institutions’ interest on residential loans, costing $170,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. This tax increase should be (Repealed) (Maintained).
What costs $170,000,000? The tax deduction? The elimination of the tax deduction? Whom does it cost? The people? The banks? The government? It’s unclear. And then what’s the point of the phrase “for government spending”?
The ballot says that the Office of the Attorney General (Republican Rob McKenna) wrote the above short official description. Perhaps McKenna chose that wording in order to discourage people from approving the elimination of the tax deduction. For conservatives “tax increase” and “government spending” are undesirable.
The wording for Substitute House Bill 2590 has a similar problem:
The legislature extended, without a vote of the people, expiration of a tax on possession of petroleum products and reduced the tax rate, costing $24,000,000 in its first ten years, for government spending. This tax increase should be (Repealed) (Maintained).
This shows the importance of voting for Bob Ferguson for Attorney General and Jay Inslee for governor.
[Added:] Brian Gunn points out that in addition to having unclear wording, the description of SB 6635 fails to mention that the bill introduces a new tax break, for server farms, and shifts “the tax burden from corporations to consumers via a change in the sales taxes on local phone calls.” This probably explains why a few legislators, including progressive champion Bob Hasegawa, voted against the bill. See page 40 of your Voters’ Pamphlet.