The barn door is open. The horse is gone. It may not do much good now, but for the future it wouldn’t hurt to close the door.
It also won’t mean much now, but for future considerations it would be wise to approve Senate Joint Resolution 8206, a constitutional amendment on the fall ballot, to close the state budget’s barn door a bit during boom times.
In the first eight years of this century, the state’s economy boomed and state government’s revenue grew at a healthy pace. After voters approved a constitutional requirement in 2007, 1 percent of that revenue went into a rainy day fund to be tapped in hard times. The hard times came sooner than anyone imagined. In the years prior, when the state’s revenue zipped upward in unexpected spurts, the money naturally was spent. State budgets were written on the assumption that those dollars would continue to flow.
They did not. Programs funded on a presumption of future wealth could not be sustained. The subsequent cuts were painful and the effects are with us to this day. In the midst of this budgetary turmoil came the proposal for SJR 8206, which requires some of the “extraordinary” spikes in state revenue to be saved in the rainy day fund. It’s not excessive or complex. Of any revenue that “exceeds by one-third” the average state revenue of the past decade, three-quarters goes to the rainy day fund. Once there, it can be withdrawn with a three-fifths vote of the Legislature, or by a simple majority if economic growth is slow or the governor declares an emergency.
Had this measure been in place a decade ago, it would be advantageous today. All agree that the state’s rainy day fund has been useful in the downturn. Most wish it had been larger. And, if only the goodtime money pumped into unsustainable programs had been socked away, it would be doubly beneficial.
To oppose SJR 8206 is to invite the same mistakes to be repeated when good times come again. Better to save windfall revenue for hard times, and keep spending sustainable. SJR 8206 is a step in that direction, a prudent measure with broad bipartisan support. Vote yes. Mark your ballot “approved.”
Senate Joint Resolution 8205 is a housekeeping measure that erases a conflict in the state’s constitution. One clause allows citizens to vote in any election after residing in the state for 30 days. Another requires 60 days’ residence to vote for president. The 60-day rule is negated by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. This amendment scratches it and settles on the 30-day standard. Vote yes. Mark your ballot “approved.”
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Editor Cal FitzSimmons, Chief Financial Officer Janine Bakken and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.