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2012: SJR 8221

2012: Engrossed State Senate Joint Resolution 8221 (approve/reject amendment to phase down Washington’s debt)

According to the Living Voters Guide, SJR 8221 would amend the phase phase-down debt limit percentage in three steps from nine to eight percent and modify the calculation date, calculation period, and the term general state revenues starting on July 1, 2014.

For full text of initiative, visit the Living Voters guide located at the Washington Secretary of State’s Elections & Voting site.

Washington’s constitution limits the amount of money the state is allowed to borrow to finance capital investments in schools, university and college buildings, water, sewer and storm water projects, and other public infrastructure. Washington’s excellent credit rating means borrowing costs are low. The state does not borrow to pay operating expenses.

The current limit lets debt capacity spike up during good economic times but drops sharply during recessions when more capacity is needed for job creation.

The pros:

  • Stabilizes and smoothes the state’s ability to borrow
  • Gradually reduces the state’s long-term debt burden
  • Lowers the share of the operating budget used to pay principal and interest (debt service) on the debt
  • Creates more stability for construction projects and improves the quality of long-term capital planning for education, recreation, and state facilities by averaging general state revenues over six years and including state property taxes in the debt limit calculation
  • Means less borrowing when construction costs are high and more capacity to borrow when costs are lower
  • Keeps borrowing costs low by protecting our excellent credit rating. A downgrade would cost taxpayers millions. Good credit allows us to use taxpayer money for more projects instead of paying higher interest rates.

 The cons:

  • Increases the costs of infrastructure investments, reduces jobs and shifts money away from schools to other programs. It will have dire unintended consequences for taxpayers.
  • Schools, community colleges, universities, skills centers, hospitals, water treatment plants, sewers and many other vital public infrastructure projects are funded directly through the state’s capital budget. These projects ensure that Washington has quality facilities to foster economic, job and educational growth.
  • By reducing the state’s capacity to invest in infrastructure, it will shift the burden of funding school construction and other projects to local governments. Local governments pay higher interest rates on their bonds, resulting in increased project costs. Ultimately, local governments will have to increase taxes to pay for these projects and taxpayers will pay more for the same facilities.
  • SJR 8221 takes property tax revenues away from schools and puts it into the state’s general fund where it will compete against other programs. In the last two years, the legislature has taken roughly $2 billion from infrastructure programs and put it into operating programs. Now, SJR 8221 will do the same for school funding; shifting it to other programs.


  • James McIntire, Washington State Treasurer, Democrat
  • Hans Dunshee, State Representative, 44th District, Democrat
  • Linda Evans Parlette, State Senator, 12th District, Republican
  • Judy Warnick, State Representative, 13th District, Republican
  • Karen Fraser, State Senator, 22nd District, Democrat
  • Contact: No information submitted


  • Marc Jenefsky, AIA, President, American Institute of Architects Washington Council
  • Bob Hasegawa, State Representative, 11th District
  • Maralyn Chase, State Senator, 32nd District
  • Jeff Johnson, President, Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • Dave Myers, Executive Secretary, Washington State Building Construction Trades Council

Contact: (360) 943-6012; office@aiawa.org; www.aiawa.org

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