SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 8206
State of Washington 55th Legislature 1997 Regular Session
By Senators Zarelli and Benton
Read first time 01/16/97. Referred to Committee on Ways & Means.
BE IT RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, IN LEGISLATIVE SESSION ASSEMBLED:
THAT, At the next general election to be held in this state the secretary of state shall submit to the qualified voters of the state for their approval and ratification, or rejection, an amendment to Article VII of the Constitution of the state of Washington by adding new sections to read as follows:
Article VII, section 12. The people of the state of Washington hereby find and declare:
(1) The continuing increases in our state tax burden and the corresponding growth of state government is contrary to the interest of the people of the state of Washington.
(2) It is necessary to limit the rate of growth of state government while assuring adequate funding of essential services, including basic education as defined by the legislature.
(3) The current budgetary system in the state of Washington lacks stability. The system encourages crisis budgeting and results in cutbacks during lean years and overspending during surplus years.
(4) It is therefore the intent of sections 12 through 18 of this Article to:
(a) Establish a limit on state expenditures that will assure that the growth rate of state expenditures does not exceed the growth rate of inflation and state population;
(b) Assure that local governments are provided funds adequate to render those services deemed essential by their citizens;
(c) Assure that the state does not impose responsibility on local governments for new programs or increased levels of service under existing programs unless the costs thereof are paid by the state;
(d) Provide for adjustment of the limit when costs of a program are transferred between the state and another political entity;
(e) Establish a procedure for exceeding this limit in emergency situations;
(f) Provide for voter approval of tax increases; and
(g) Avoid overfunding and underfunding state programs by providing stability, consistency, and long-range planning.
Section 13. (1) The state shall not expend from the general fund during any fiscal year state moneys in excess of the state expenditure limit established under sections 12 through 18 of this Article.
(2) Except pursuant to a declaration of emergency under section 14 of this Article or pursuant to an appropriation under section 15(4)(b) of this Article, the state treasurer shall not issue or redeem any check, warrant, or voucher that will result in a state general fund expenditure for any fiscal year in excess of the state expenditure limit established under sections 12 through 18 of this Article. A violation of this subsection constitutes a violation of RCW 43.88.290 and shall subject the state treasurer to the penalties provided in RCW 43.88.300.
(3) The state expenditure limit for any fiscal year shall be the previous fiscal year's state expenditure limit increased by a percentage rate that equals the fiscal growth factor.
(4) For purposes of computing the state expenditure limit for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1995, the phrase "the previous fiscal year's state expenditure limit" means the total state expenditures from the state general fund, not including federal funds, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1989, plus the fiscal growth factor. This calculation is then computed for the state expenditure limit for fiscal years 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995, and as required under section 14(4) of this Article.
(5) Each November, the office of financial management shall adjust the expenditure limit for the preceding fiscal year based on actual expenditures and known changes in the fiscal growth factor and then project an expenditure limit for the next two fiscal years. The office of financial management shall notify the legislative fiscal committees of all adjustments to the state expenditure limit and projections of future expenditure limits.
(6) "Fiscal growth factor" means the average of the sum of inflation and population change for each of the prior three fiscal years.
(7) "Inflation" means the percentage change in the implicit price deflator for the United States for each fiscal year as published by the federal bureau of labor statistics.
(8) "Population change" means the percentage change in state population for each fiscal year as reported by the office of financial management.
Section 14. (1) After July 1, 1995, any action or combination of actions by the legislature that raises state revenue or requires revenue-neutral tax shifts may be taken only if approved by a two-thirds vote of each house, and then only if state expenditures in any fiscal year, including the new revenue, will not exceed the state expenditure limits established under sections 12 through 18 of this Article.
(2)(a) If the legislative action under subsection (1) of this section will result in expenditures in excess of the state expenditure limit, then the action of the legislature shall not take effect until approved by a vote of the people at a November general election. The office of financial management shall adjust the state expenditure limit by the amount of additional revenue approved by the voters under this section. This adjustment shall not exceed the amount of revenue generated by the legislative action during the first full fiscal year in which it is in effect. The state expenditure limit shall be adjusted downward upon expiration or repeal of the legislative action.
(b) The ballot title for any vote of the people required under this section shall be substantially as follows:
"Shall taxes be imposed on . . . . . . . in order to allow a spending increase above last year's authorized spending adjusted for inflation and population increases?"
(3)(a) The state expenditure limit may be exceeded upon declaration of an emergency for a period not to exceed twenty-four months by a law approved by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature and signed by the governor. The law shall set forth the nature of the emergency, which is limited to natural disasters that require immediate government action to alleviate human suffering and provide humanitarian assistance. The state expenditure limit may be exceeded for no more than twenty-four months following the declaration of the emergency and only for the purposes contained in the emergency declaration.
(b) Additional taxes required for an emergency under this section may be imposed only until thirty days following the next general election, unless an extension is approved at that general election. The additional taxes shall expire upon expiration of the declaration of emergency. The legislature shall not impose additional taxes for emergency purposes under this subsection unless funds in the education construction fund have been exhausted.
(c) The state or any political subdivision of the state shall not impose any tax on intangible property listed in RCW 84.36.070 as that statute exists on January 1, 1993.
(4) If the cost of any state program or function is shifted from the state general fund on or after January 1, 1993, to another source of funding, or if moneys are transferred from the state general fund to another fund or account, the office of financial management shall lower the state expenditure limit to reflect the shift.
Section 15. (1) The emergency reserve fund is established in the state treasury. During each fiscal year, the state treasurer shall deposit in the emergency reserve fund all general fund‑-state revenues in excess of the state expenditure limit for that fiscal year. Deposits shall be made at the end of each fiscal quarter based on projections of state revenues and the state expenditure limit.
(2) The legislature may appropriate moneys from the emergency reserve fund only with approval of at least two-thirds of the members of each house of the legislature, and then only if the appropriation does not cause total expenditures to exceed the state expenditure limit under sections 12 through 18 of this Article.
(3) The emergency reserve fund balance shall not exceed five percent of biennial general fund‑-state revenues as projected by the official state revenue forecast. Any balance in excess of five percent shall be transferred on a quarterly basis by the state treasurer to the education construction fund hereby created in the treasury.
(4)(a) Funds may be appropriated from the education construction fund exclusively for common school construction or higher education construction.
(b) Funds may be appropriated for any other purpose only if approved by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature and if approved by a vote of the people at the next general election. An appropriation approved by the people under this subsection shall result in an adjustment to the state expenditure limit only for the fiscal period for which the appropriation is made and shall not affect any subsequent fiscal period.
Section 16. No fee may increase in any fiscal year by a percentage in excess of the fiscal growth factor for that fiscal year without prior legislative approval.
Section 17. (1) After July 1, 1995, the legislature shall not impose responsibility for new programs or increased levels of service under existing programs on any political subdivision of the state unless the subdivision is fully reimbursed by specific appropriation by the state for the costs of the new programs or increases in service levels.
(2) If by order of any court, or legislative enactment, the costs of a federal or local government program are transferred to or from the state, the otherwise applicable state expenditure limit shall be increased or decreased, as the case may be, by the dollar amount of the costs of the program.
(3) The legislature, in consultation with the office of financial management or its successor agency, shall determine the costs of any new programs or increased levels of service under existing programs imposed on any political subdivision or transferred to or from the state.
(4) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to the costs incurred for voting devices or machines under RCW 29.04.200.
Section 18. If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this amendment is a single amendment within the meaning of Article XXIII, section 1 of the state Constitution.
The legislature finds that the changes contained in this amendment constitute a single integrated plan for limiting expenditures and taxation. If this amendment is held to be separate amendments, this joint resolution is void in its entirety and is of no further force and effect.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the secretary of state shall cause notice of this constitutional amendment to be published at least four times during the four weeks next preceding the election in every legal newspaper in the state.
--- END ---