With the November election not very far away, the campaigns are reaching their full swing, issues are being debated and initiatives are being put on the ballots. On Friday, June 6, two more initiatives were added to the Washington ballot after attaining more than the required 241,153 signatures
The two bills in question are in support of charter schools, and requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes in the state. They join four other initiatives on the November ballot, including a referendum voting for same-sex marriage, an initiative to legalize marijuana and allowing University of Washington and Washington State University to reinvest some of their public funding.
According to Dave Ammon, spokesperson for Secretary of State Sam Reed, whom Bellevue College has hosted as a speaker every year, this busy election year could break the 86 percent attendance record set in 2008. “It should be an interesting year,” he said.
The main reason for the suspected increase in attendance, according to an associate professor at the University of Washington, Matt Barreto, is the highly advocated same-sex marriage and marijuana referendums and initiatives. The referendum will give voters the opportunity to affirm or reject the earlier legislature legalizing same-sex marriage. These two sensitive issues will be joined to bring voters to presidential and gubernatorial ballots, as well as other local initiatives like charter schools and tax voting majority.
The charter schools initiative was put forth in late May, and the goal is to bring charter schools to Washington, which is one of nine states that currently doesn’t allow them. A charter school is, according to the creators of the initiative, “A public school open to all … created and run by concerned parents and certified teachers.” Charter schools are independent, but publically funded; they provide an alternative to public schools. They have secured over $2 million in funding and are backed by major educational groups.
Charter schools were legalized in March of 2004, but overturned in a referendum that same November. This year the main petitioners behind this initiative hope to succeed permanently and open 40 charter schools over a five-year period approved by the state. Opponents to this initiative object to nonunion instructors, as well as saying that money should not be taken from public schools to create charter schools.
The other initiative, called the Eyman Initiative after Tim Eyman, the main promoter, concerns changing the majority required to raise taxes in the state. Currently in the House and the Senate a one-half majority is required, but if this initiative passes the state House and Senate would have to reach a two thirds majority, or have the new tax approved by voters.
Eyman turned in reportedly over 318,000 signatures on Friday, June 6. He said of this bill, “Taxpayers desperately need protection from job-killing, family-budget-busting tax increases.”
This initiative has already passed in the past, but it has a two-year expiration date and would become moot in January of 2013. If voters want it to stay, they will need to vote it into law again.
Both these initiatives will go on the ballot in November, although they both have groups and organizations who have promised to fight against them – civic leaders against Eyman’s initiative, and union teachers against the charter school initiative. Campaigns for and against have been running in the background during this electoral season, but now it is affirmed that they will be at least voted on.