Washington Simple Majority for Excess School Tax Levies, Substitute HJR 4204 (2007)

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The Washington Simple Majority for Excess School Tax Levies Amendment, also known as Substitute House Joint Resolution 4204, was on the November 6, 2007 ballot in Washington as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure would eliminate supermajority approval requirements based on voter turnout in previous elections for school district property tax levies.[1] The measure amended Section 2 of Article VII of the Washington Constitution.[2]

Election results

Washington Sub. HJR 4204 (2007)
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 811,507 50.61%
No792,01049.39%

Election results via: Washington Secretary of State

Text of measure

See also: Washington State Constitution, Section 2 of Article VII

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on school district tax levies.

This amendment would provide for approval of school district excess property tax levies by simple majority vote of participating voters, and would eliminate supermajority approval requirements based on voter turnout in previous elections.

Should this constitutional amendment be:

Approved [ ] Rejected [ ][3]

Support

Arguments

The following reasons were given in support of Sub. HJR 4204 in the Washington 2007 Voters' Guide:[1]

VOTE YES ON 4204 TO SUPPORT OUR SCHOOLS

Most Washingtonians recognize the importance of public education – and the importance of local levies in providing our schools with vital, basic funding. That’s why nearly all levies win majority-level support. The problem is that levies currently require a 60% "supermajority" to pass. 4204 will fix that, allowing a much more common "simple majority" of voters in a community to decide whether a school levy should pass.

LEVIES SUPPORT BASIC SCHOOL NEEDS

Local school levies provide many of our basic school needs, such as textbooks, building maintenance and repair, and smaller class sizes. And almost all school levies enjoy majority support. But many fail anyway – sometimes with 59% of the vote. That’s just not fair to our kids.

LEVY FAILURES HURT OUR KIDS – AND WASTE MONEY

When a local levy fails, it results in deep budget cuts, teacher layoffs and other disruptions that hurt our kids and can take years to fix. Most levies eventually pass, sometimes on the second or third try. But this means that school districts waste a great deal of time and taxpayer money holding multiple elections when a majority of voters supported the levy in the first place.

SIMPLE MAJORITY ENJOYS STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

Lawmakers from both parties understand how important local levies are to our schools. That’s why a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature – Republicans and Democrats alike – voted to put 4204 on the ballot. It is endorsed by parents, teachers, business leaders and citizens across Washington.

A vote for 4204 is a vote for our schools and provides for the basic needs of our students. Vote YES on 4204.

For more information, call (206) 658-5211.[3]

The arguments in favor of Sub. HJR 4204 were prepared by:[1]

  • Laura Bay, President, Washington State PTA
  • Rich Hadley, President/CEO, Greater Spokane Incorporated
  • Mary Lindquist, President, Washington Education Association and high school teacher
  • Jim Kowalkowski, Director, Rural Education Center and Pomeroy Schools Superintendent
  • James Kelly, President/CEO, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
  • Lisa MacFarelane, President, League of Education Voters.

Opposition

Arguments

The following reasons were given in opposition to Sub. HJR 4204 in the Washington 2007 Voters' Guide:[1]

THE BOTTOM LINE: THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE – VOTE NO!

Why make it easier to raise property taxes when taxes are already rising rapidly? Property taxes will go up with this measure by allowing much larger levies to pass, making housing less affordable for seniors and working families.

PROTECT OUR STATE’S CONSTITUTIONAL TAX LIMIT CREATED BY YOU – THE VOTERS. VOTE NO!

Our Constitution limits state and local government property taxes to 1% of market value. You, the voters, said any increase by any government above this limit – an "excess levy" – must receive 60% approval by a minimum number of voters. The bar should remain higher to raise taxes above the 1% limit. EHJR 4204 eliminates this common-sense protection

Should A Small Minority Be Able To Raise Your Taxes? EHJR 4204 also eliminates the voter turnout protection in our Constitution, enabling a very small number of voters to raise everyone’s property taxes. For example: If only 100 people voted and 51 voted "Yes," everyone’s property taxes would be raised! Currently, school districts ensure high voter turnouts, EHJR 4204 would discourage that.

OUR GOVERNOR’S AND LEGISLATURE’S CONSTITUTIONAL "PARAMOUNT DUTY" IS TO FUND EDUCATION FOR ALL WASHINGTON CHILDREN!

Should the quality of your child’s education depend on where they attend school? EHJR 4204 hurts our children by widening disparities in per-pupil funding based on local propertywealth. Since 1986, the state has pushed more school funding responsibility onto local school districts. The local responsibility of school funding has doubled, while the state’s has declined – 4204 would accelerate that trend. It’s time legislators and the governor make funding education #1.

EHJR 4204 WILL RAISE YOUR PROPERTY TAXES, WITHOUT IMPROVING EDUCATION – VOTE NO!

For more than 70 years, voters have repeatedly reaffirmed these property tax protections. Send Olympia a message: Vote "NO" on EHJR 4204![3]

The arguments against Sub. HJR 4204 were prepared by:[1]

  • Janea Holmquist (R-13), Early Learning, K-12 Committee
  • Ed Orcutt (R-20b), homeowner, and forester
  • Angie Dorman, nationally-recognized teacher, 2006 American Star of Teaching
  • Kelly Niemi, family forester and small business owner
  • Steve Appel, President, representing Washington Farm Bureau’s 35,000 families
  • Wynn Cannon, Chairman, on behalf of League of Washington Taxpayers

Media editorial positions

Support

  • The Stranger said, "Thank them for this pro-education legislation by voting Yes."[4]
  • The Seattle Times said, "Vote YES to bring fairness and a more-reasonable assessment of the levies essential to basic school funding."[5]

Opposition

  • Kitsap Sun said, "HJR 4204 to end the supermajority levy requirement is a cop-out by legislators to dump school funding onto local property owners."[6]

Path to the ballot

In accordance with the Washington Constitution, the Senate and House approved the proposal by a two-thirds vote before submitting the measure to the voters. The following is the results of the legislature's votes:[1]

Yeas Nays Absent Excused
Senate 33 16 0 0
House 79 19 0 0

See also

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