SEATTLE - One of the hottest issues on the upcoming ballot in Washington is Initiative 1033, which would hold the state, cities and counties to strict limits on the amount of income they can raise through taxes. Backers say it's a way to force state and local governments to spend less money, because they'll have much less to spend.
At least 200 organizations, from business and labor to consumer groups, are opposed to I-1033, including AARP Washington. State Director Doug Shadel says a similar initiative in Colorado was suspended by that state's legislature because of its effects on public services and the economy.
"Twenty-eight other states have considered this in the past and have turned it down, once they realized what it would do. And most of the reason is, because they looked at the one state where it did get passed and what a disaster it was, and they said, 'We don't want to go there.'"
Shadel points out that I-1033 is being touted as a way to lower property taxes. He believes that view is short-sighted, especially at a time when social services have already been cut significantly.
"Those who initially say they support Initiative 1033, think, 'Oh, I can get a break on my property taxes.' But in fact, the experience in Colorado was that, after the first year, people got nominal refund checks on their taxes, but they ended up paying way more in fees for other things."
Shadel says the idea of controlling government spending is understandable, but not with what he calls a "one-size-fits-all" approach. Today, AARP will outline I-1033's potential impact on senior citizens in Seattle (at ElderHealth Northwest, 4712 35th Ave. N.W.), and in Yakima (at Provident Horizon Group, 1510 S. 36th St.). Both events begin at 10:00 a.m.