Statewide Poverty Action Network’s 2014 Voter Guide

You’ve been seeing commercials, hearing ads on the radio, and receiving mail from candidates and initiative campaigns. It is clearly time to vote in our state’s primary election!

If you’ve received your ballot in the mail recently, you may see some old familiars and some new unknowns on there. It can be overwhelming trying to find resources on the right information about where these candidates stand on the issues facing your community. With so many pressing matters facing our communities, your participation in this election is critical.

Every election season, Statewide Poverty Action Network Poverty Action Voter Guide(SPAN) takes to the streets to register and mobilize voters, AND we talk to the people running for elected office across the state. We sent all running candidates in Washington state a questionnaire on topics ranging from health care to predatory lending to institutional racism, and then published their responses verbatim in this VOTER GUIDE. Over the next few weeks, we’ll add even more information about folks running for U.S. Congress and our positions on the statewide initiatives, too!

Our guide provides the tools you need to help ensure all families have the rights, recognition, and resources needed to thrive. We need great leaders in Olympia to help us forward our legislative agenda to change laws and correct injustices. Now is the time to have a say about the issues facing your community and making sure everyone can meet their basic needs.

These candidates will have substantial impacts on our everyday lives. Don’t let this election pass you by. Read our online voter guide to make informed decisions before mailing your ballot or putting it in a local drop box by 8pm on Tuesday, August 5!

SPAN and Solid Ground are nonpartisan, nonprofit (501c3) organizations that do not support any candidate or political party.

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Keeping Perspective after a Tough Election

(Editor’s Note: Marcy Bowers is the Membership and Communications Coordinator for the Statewide Poverty Action Network, a program of Solid Ground that works to build grassroots power to end the root causes of poverty and create opportunities for everyone to prosper.)

Volunteer canvassers in Tacoma

I confess. I’m an eternal optimist. I believe in crazy notions like “things will always get better,” and “there is always something gained, even when things go wrong.” I think this is what drove me to choose a career in organizing, what has kept me in this field for the past eight years, and what allows me to keep going in the face of devastating election losses.

This year in Washington, voters faced a record seven statewide ballot measures. Of those seven measures, three (I-1098, I-1053, and I-1107) will directly impact our state’s ability to balance the budget without making drastic cuts to the programs and services that people depend on to survive.

Reflecting a national wave of anti-tax, anti-government rhetoric, those three measures decidedly “went wrong:”

• I-1098 would have created a limited income tax on Washington’s wealthiest 1%, bringing in over $2 billion a year for healthcare and education. It failed, 65% to 35%.

• I-1053, this year’s Tim Eyman disaster, will require a two-thirds vote in the legislature or a vote of the people to raise taxes or close corporate tax loopholes. In this economy, this measure will surely mean more budget cuts. It passed, 65% to 35%

• I-1107 repealed a small tax on soda, bottled water, candy and gum that Poverty Action and other advocates passed during last year’s legislative session. These taxes would have brought in $300 million a year for schools, kids’ health care, domestic violence and sexual assault services, and many other basic services. It passed, 62% to 38%.

So, let’s get back to that optimism thing. How in the world can I possibly be optimistic when Washington is facing another $4.5 billion budget deficit and voters just repealed taxes and made it nearly impossible to raise revenue in 2011? How can I possibly be hopeful knowing that, as a result, Washington State is poised to be the first state to cut prescription drug benefits for people on Medicaid?

Canvassers' toolkit: clipboard and educational materials

To be honest, there’s not a lot of hope to be found if I only look at those daunting questions. For me, it’s about taking a wider view of election organizing and remembering that elections are only partly about the issues on the ballot. I became an organizer to help build political power in low-income communities, not just to pass or defeat ballot measures. The work of building political power is simply too big and too important to achieve in just one election season. It’s about the process of building trust and community, engaging new and infrequent voters, registering voters whose right to vote was recently restored, and talking to people about why their vote matters and how issues on the ballot will impact their communities.

Even with devastating election losses, I can still be proud of the work Poverty Action did this year to register over 1,200 new voters. I can still find hope in the knowledge that we reached out to 12,000 voters in low-income communities and communities of color and talked about the real impact of this year’s ballot measures on their communities. I will be encouraged when I remember that the building blocks to real political power are found in the countless conversations we had at transitional housing facilities, in food bank lines, and at resource fairs this summer and fall.

And those numbers and conversations matter. In a state where gubernatorial elections have been decided by just 133 votes (Gregoire in 2004), 1,200 newly registered voters, armed with knowledge and ownership of their role in state politics, can easily decide the outcome of future statewide elections in Washington. From my perspective, it’s hard to not feel optimistic about that!

People who will pay for Yes on I-1098

Lots of folks who would be the hardest hit by the state income tax on high wage earners proposed in Initiative 1098 support the Initiative because of the way it would fund education and health care, as well as cut the taxes of most of the rest of us.

Bill Gates, Sr. supports I-1098

Poverty Action initiative endorsement: YES on 1098 & 52, NO on everything else

This year, there are a record number of issues, initiatives and measures on the ballot in Washington State. And ALL of them will impact our state’s investments in the health and wellbeing of our communities, particularly our low-income communities and communities of color.

hands in air "voting"Solid Ground’s Statewide Poverty Action Network combed through all of the election information, researched what impact these ballot measures would have on our families, friends and neighbors, and came up with a list of endorsements. Solid Ground’s Board of Directors also endorsed these positions (with the exception of taking no action on I-1082 and Ref 52).

In short, Poverty Action urges you to vote YES on I-1098, APPROVE Referendum 52, and vote NO on everything else.

And here’s why:

VOTE YESVOTE YES ON I-1098 & REF. 52

I-1098 invests in Washington communities. Vote Yes
I-1098 would raise over $1 billion per year for health care and education by establishing a limited income tax on the wealthiest 3% of Washingtonians (individuals who make over $200,000/year or couples who make over $400,000/year).

Ref. 52 makes our schools safer and creates jobs. Vote Approve
Approving Referendum 52 means that our state can continue our commitment to making schools safer, saving energy and creating 30,000 new jobs.

VOTE NOVOTE NO ON EVERYTHING ELSE.

Big oil, big developers, big insurance and big banks have bankrolled these five dangerous initiatives that would cost Washington communities more than $1.2 billion.

I-1053 is Tim Eyman’s latest anti-tax disaster. Vote No
I-1053 would require a two-thirds vote in each house of the legislature or voter approval for every tax increase, surely leading to more cuts to priorities like education, health care and other critical programs.

I-1107 would lead to further cuts to education and health care. Vote No
I-1107 would cut $300 million from our schools and kids by repealing a small tax on soda, bottled water, candy and gum.

I-1082 is bad for you and good for the private insurance industry. Vote No
I-1082 would privatize our workers’ compensation insurance system, which protects workers who are injured on the job. This would cost our state millions, drive up employer costs and prioritize corporate profits over workers’ health.

I-1100 & I-1105 put our jobs, education, health care and public safety at risk. Vote No
By privatizing the sale of hard liquor, I-1100 & I-1105 would strip $350 million each year from local schools, health care, police, firefighters, and alcohol and drug abuse programs, and lead to more underage drinking, drunk driving and alcohol-related crime.

Still have questions? Email vote@povertyaction.org and we can help you figure it out.

Want to help us spread the word about these ballot measures? Email volunteer@povertyaction.org and we’ll get you set up.

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