This week, the Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) Board of Trustees took positions on four measures, appearing on the ballot this November: Proposition 1, Initiative 732, Initiative 1464, and Initiative 1433. Please read below for our positions on each measure.
Proposition 1 – Spokane Transit Authority services expansion
Greater Spokane Incorporated supports Proposition 1, which will help maintain, improve, and expand services provided by Spokane Transit Authority (STA). Public transportation is vital to economic development throughout our region. It connects us to workplaces, education, healthcare, and shopping. GSI believes that STA’s plan to build new and expand existing transit centers will increase customer service and serve a wider audience that may have been left out due to some route operating hours.
Prop 1 accomplishes this with a .2% sales tax increase across Spokane County, phased in over two years, which sunsets in 2028. For an average household in Spokane, this would mean an estimated impact of $24 each year. STA took large strides from its 2015 Proposition 1 by listening to community input and returning to the table with this more favorable ballot measure.
I-732 – Washington State Carbon Tax
The Greater Spokane Incorporated Board of Trustees voted to oppose Initiative 732, known as the Washington State Carbon Tax. This initiative threatens innovations and sustainability investments made by local industry leaders who have been at the forefront of environmentally-friendly projects and construction throughout our region.
Businesses have a vested interest in sustainability, being environmentally-friendly and improving quality of life in order to attract highly-skilled workers to our region. Washington state businesses are among the leaders in green economy innovation. Placing this carbon tax on our already environmentally-friendly businesses would make Washington a less attractive destination for companies looking to start or expand operations.
Moreover, I-732 will increase the cost of living in Washington state with a projected additional fuel costs of $.25 per gallon by 2018, and up to 20 percent higher electricity costs.
I-1464 – Washington Government Accountability Act
The Greater Spokane Incorporated Board of Trustees voted to oppose Initiative 1464, known as the Washington Government Accountability Act. This initiative would allow tax dollars to be used to finance campaigns for elected officials. This, on principle, is not a function of government. The “Democracy Credit” provision has the potential to game contributions through interest groups by bundling credits with campaigns to freeze out candidates just starting out, or those who are political newcomers. Additionally, with 4 million registered voters in Washington state, that means the state government would be responsible for managing $600 million in personal campaign contributions.
Another element in this initiative includes closing out-of-state resident tax breaks, which has the strong potential to harm border communities, including Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, and Spokane. Many businesses near the state borders are more dependent on out-of-state shoppers, who generate $60 million each biennium. Finally, the initiative channels money or dedicates money for campaign funding purposes rather than using that money to address educational funding challenges.
I-1433 – Minimum Wage and Mandatory Sick Leave
The Greater Spokane Incorporated Board of Trustees voted to oppose Initiative 1433, a measure that forces an increase of minimum wage and mandates paid sick leave for all employees. GSI believes in competitive wages for employees throughout our region. Artificially forcing a wage increase of this magnitude, however, would hurt a number of startups and small businesses, in addition to placing a burden on communities competing with Idaho or Oregon for business.
Every region in Washington state has a different economic dynamic, with variances including housing costs, utility prices, costs of living, and shipping costs. If passed by voters, a broad-reaching initiative like this will affect the economy in communities throughout our state in different ways.