Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

GOP backers of 3 initiatives sue to keep their fiscal impact off the November ballot

A person drops off a ballot at a drop box during the presidential primary election, Tuesday, March 12, 2024, in Seattle.
Manuel Valdes
A person drops off a ballot at a drop box during the presidential primary election, Tuesday, March 12, 2024, in Seattle.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Republican backers of three initiatives that could change important state policies are suing to keep each measure's fiscal impact from appearing on the November ballot. But lawyers for the state say the budget implications must be disclosed to voters.

Analysts have said if the initiatives pass, they could reduce funding for education and environmental projects by billions of dollars, the Seattle Times reported. And the initiative focusing on the state's long-term care insurance program could potentially shut down that program, they said.

A newly passed disclosure law requires the state attorney general to detail how funding or services could be affected by a ballot initiative that repeals, imposes or changes any tax or fee, or state revenue. But the GOP backers of the initiatives say the law doesn't apply to measures on the state's capital gains tax, carbon market and public long-term care insurance program.

“They were very specific when they passed the warning-label law,” Jim Walsh, a state representative from Aberdeen who filed the three initiatives and the chair of the state Republican Party, said in a statement Monday. “But they were so specific that the law doesn’t apply to any of the initiatives that go before voters this year. The case is so clear-cut I am surprised we have to take this to court.”

They asked a Thurston County Superior Court judge to stop Attorney General Bob Ferguson from preparing a statement for each initiative and want the judge to stop Secretary of State Steve Hobbs from certifying the statements and instruct county elections officials to print them without statements. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Friday.

State lawyers plan to argue that the ballots must include the budget impacts.

“Under state law, the public has a right to have those fiscal impacts described on the ballot,” lawyers for the state wrote in court documents. “This Court should reject Plaintiffs’ cynical attempt to keep voters in the dark.”

Initiative 2117 would repeal the state’s carbon market, and Initiative 2109 would repeal the capital gains tax. Initiative 2124 will decide whether state residents must pay into Washington Cares, the state’s public long-term care insurance program.

The Associated Press (“AP”) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from the AP. Founded in 1846, the AP today is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. The AP considers itself to be the backbone of the world’s information system, serving thousands of daily newspaper, radio, television, and online customers with coverage in text, photos, graphics, audio and video.