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2010: Referendum Bill 52 (Energy/Bonds)

The Legislature may stipulate in passing a law that it be submitted to the voters for their approval or rejection. Such laws are called Referendum Bills.

Referendum Bill 52 would authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects that increase energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings; it would also extend the sales tax on bottled water that would otherwise expire in 2013. This referendum bill resulted from the legislature passing Engrossed House Bill No. 2561 (pdf) (bill summary).

Votes cast by the 2010 Legislature on final passage:
Senate: Yeas, 28; Nays, 18; Absent, 0; Excused, 3
House: Yeas, 59; Nays, 38; Absent, 0; Excused, 1

Explanatory Statement:
The State of Washington issues bonds as one way of borrowing money for various public purposes. Bonds are written agreements, under which the state agrees to pay the borrowed money back over a stated period of time, with interest. The state constitution limits the amount of money the state can borrow, except for debt approved by the voters.

This measure asks the voters to approve the state’s issuance of general obligation bonds to pay for certain construction and repair projects to improve energy efficiency in public schools and in higher education buildings. The measure would authorize the state to borrow $505 million by issuing bonds to be repaid from future revenue.

Statements For:

  • Taxpayers will save an estimated $130 million annually in energy costs.
  • Repairing our aging school buildings will create 30,000 new construction jobs.
  • Referendum 52 requires that only projects with energy cost savings greater than the cost of the project can receive funding.

Statements Against:

  • Debt expenses consume 84% more taxpayer dollars now than 12 years ago.
  • R-52 authorizes debt outside the Article 8, Section 1 constitutional limit.
  • The state’s economists estimate 5,700 short-term construction jobs, not 30,000.

From Washington State Secretary of State – Online Voters Guide

In The News:

The Tacoma News-Tribune, citing the Office of Financial Management:

If voters pass Referendum 52 – an energy-upgrade measure for public schools and buildings – the soda tax would take effect again in 2014, generating at least $33.9 million the first year and larger amounts in later years. But it would put the state on the hook for about $937 million in debt service over five years.

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