Initiative world: A look at the coming elections

The mid-term elections are upon us and, as you might have guessed, I have an opinion or two to share. I offer this to you with love from the left, and what I hope is a dash or two of common sense.

We are faced with some confusing initiatives. I'll try to simplify those for your consideration.

Initiative No. 920 does away with (no pun intended) the so-called state death tax. The voter's pamphlet states the schools will lose $184.5 million over the next two fiscal years due to this initiative. It also says the impact won't occur until the 2007-2009 budget period, giving the brainiacs in Seattle and Olympia time to find other revenue sources.

We all want the best education for our children. And while we like to pick on millionaires, this tax seems unfair. It affects estates above $2 million, $4 million for couples, exempting property used primarily for farming.

I earned my money and paid taxes. I paid taxes on the growth of investments, property taxes on my home and sales taxes. I find it repugnant that when I die, the government could tax all of that one more time if my estate reached the tax threshold, and with ever-increasing home values, many of us may get there.

My inclination is to vote for this initiative. Let Olympia find a better way to finance education than going after a bereaved family.

Initiative 933 reimburses landowners for loss of income on lands whose character has been changed by city, county or state government.

A bipartisan group of sitting and ex-governors have come out against 933. While there needs to be some process for landowners to pursue compensation for losses from changes to land, the consensus appears to be that 933 is a Pandora's Box promising an expensive, litigious nightmare. Try something else.

Initiative 937 is the "greens against business" battle again. The initiative sets standards for energy conservation, insisting that private energy companies in Washington meet targets for using renewable resources to produce energy, while passing the compliance costs on to their customers.

Organizations like the Audubon Society, American Lung Association and the League of Women Voters support 937, while organizations like the Association of Washington Business, Inland Power and Light Company oppose the move.

This is a no-brainer. Gasoline prices have shot up. Electric and natural gas bills are up. There is a finite supply of fossil fuels, and burning them is damaging our world. It's time for our state to step up to the plate and hit a home run for renewable and cleaner energy.

There is one House Resolution that, while tedious, should be read.

4223 is a constitutional amendment to increase the exemption for personal property tax from $3,000 to $15,000.

This personal property tax is levied on small businesses. These days a flat-screen plasma TV costs $3,000, so it seems appropriate to adjust this figure, which is why no one argued the change. Vote yes on this one.

We have two King County propositions this year,

King County Prop 1 wants to give the county authority to sell off some properties acquired under something called the Harbor Bonds program that voters approved in 1910, and according to the explanatory statement in the pamphlet, are no longer necessary for the counties current or foreseeable needs.

No one wrote an argument for or against this one, suggesting that it's on the ballot to salve some obscure voter law. Barring last-minute revelations, I see no reason to oppose this.

King County Prop 2 is another story. This one asks us to impose additional sales and use taxes of one tenth of one percent on ourselves for a plethora of projects including expansion of Metro transportation, i.e. bus service, van pools, passenger facilities, park & ride, and "other congestion relief projects."

My bias? I'm not a fan of busses. More busses on our congested roads seems counterproductive when I see so many buses driving around empty. Slow, smelly, tandem buses will not ease traffic congestion or get anyone abandon their Cadillac Escalade. Why aren't we looking at smaller, faster and more flexible alternatives to these rolling buildings? The cynic in me imagines that Metro is adding to its empire during an upswing in the economy.

We are spending billions on light rail, and we're faced with billions for a viaduct replacement and a floating bridge, not to mention the Magnolia Bridge. Take a breather and get some of these projects completed, and see if they help before we throw more money at our problems. I say no thank you for now.

Mike Davis is a freelance writer living in Magnolia. Talk back to him at[[In-content Ad]]