Legislative Voting Records
Legislators vote on hundreds of bills every year. Sometimes they vote on different versions of the same bill or on questions about procedure.
The information prepared for the print version of the Informed Voter Guide is below.
Requiring Balanced Budgets (SB 6636)
Sen. Jim Kastama proposed Senate Bill 6636 to require the legislature to pass a balanced budget and to have a balanced four-year budget plan (starting next year). The Senate vote is on that original idea. The House vote was on a slightly different version of the bill—the budget plan is considered “balanced” as long as it spends no more than 4.5% more than the previous year, even if the state expects to receive less than that in revenue. The House bill became law.
Fixing the Current Budget: The Senate plan versus the House plan (5967)
The Senate vote was on March 3, when a bipartisan group of senators passed a plan to reduce spending and maintain a $501 million reserve, though it would also have skipped a $143 million payment to the state’s pension fund. The House voted on a very different version of this bill: more spending was added back in, and though they included the pension payment, they instead would have postponed a $330 million payment to public schools and left less in the state’s reserves. In the end, a different compromise bill passed.
Local Transportation Tax Increases (6582)
This bill doubles the “car tab” fee that most cities can impose on vehicle owners, from $20 to $40. It also allows counties to impose a motor vehicle excise tax (this requires a vote of the people), changes the limit on local gas taxes in a way that slightly reduces the top rate, and allows Seattle to impose an additional gas tax (this would also require a public vote). The bill became law.
Pension Reforms (6378)
Sen. Joseph Zarelli introduced this pension reform legislation that would have closed the state’s older and more expensive pension plans to new hires and instead had new employees join only the newest plan. It would have required that employees taking early retirement also take a reduction in their pensions based on the actual cost to the pension fund. The Senate vote is included here, along with the House vote on an amended version that did not include as much cost savings, but did eventually become law.