Politics & Government

Voters favor saving for ‘rainy day’

Two constitutional amendments on Washington’s general-election ballot were passing by wide margins in early returns Tuesday evening.

Senate Joint Resolution 8206 expands the state “rainy day” savings account. Voters already approved a savings account in 2007, but SJR 8206 grabs more of surpluses in exceptional boom years, creating a bigger nest egg for lean times.

The other measure, SJR 8205, erases a 60-day residency requirement for presidential elections from the state constitution. The state went to a 30-day residency after a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but the constitution was never updated, despite Republican Sen. Mike Carrell’s five-year effort, which was finally succeeding.

The rainy day fund proposal was sponsored by Republican Sen. Joseph Zarelli of Ridgefield and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.

“I think the one thing everyone gets is the necessity of government to better manage its money, and saving is a good thing,” Zarelli said. “I think that is what voters are saying.’’

SJR 8206 puts a portion of “extraordinary” revenues during boom times into a budget stabilization account. “Extraordinary” revenues are those exceeding the 10-year historic average for a biennium.

Under the measure, lawmakers may pull out money with a simple majority vote in two ways: if the governor declares an emergency or if expected job growth falls below 1 percent. Otherwise, a 60 percent super-majority is needed.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 bshannon@theolympian.com www.theolympian.com/politicsblog