In Our View: Dreams of Rainy Days
Voters made the right decision last week
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
One lingering mystery after the Nov. 8 election is how 33.2 percent of voters could have possibly opposed Senate Joint Resolution 8206. After all, it had been approved unanimously in the state Senate and by 88.3 percent of House members. But let’s not worry about trivialities of this 2-to-1 margin of victory for the people of Washington.
SJR 8206 mandates that a portion of “extraordinary” increases in state revenue be directed to the state’s rainy day fund. Specifically, when revenues exceed 133 percent of historical average growth, three-fourths of that surplus goes to the special account designed for use during the worst of economic times. A Sunday Columbian story explained that, had this common-sense provision been in place all along, it would’ve taken effect only twice, most recently in 2005-2007 (when state revenues soared 21.4 percent). And if SJR 8206 had been in effect in those two boom times, the rainy day fund would’ve grown by about $1.5 billion.
It’s a great concept that we wish had been adopted long ago. The only downside: Washingtonians alive today might never get to see SJR 8206 take effect, not if the current economic crisis is any indication.
But we all can dream, can’t we?
One might argue that sudden increases in state revenue would be needed during a recovery. SJR 8206 allows for that. It’s written so that the change cannot happen during the first biennium after any 133 percent increase.
Put this all in the perspective of a struggling family’s budget discussion at the dinner table: “Honey, I promise, if our income ever increases by 133 percent, we’re socking away three-fourths of that increase in savings.”
The smart spouse would respond, “Hey, what a great idea. One more reason I married you!”