Advisory votes are just opinion polls. The results do not legally do anything. Even if every voter in the entire state voted against them, the law would still stand. I my opinion, you should just vote “repealed” on all of them. While they have no force of law at all, you are giving the Legislature your opinion regarding how you feel about taxes.
But when you look at your voting guide, you see that your legislator, who you thought was with you on lower taxes and less government voted “yea” on one or more of these bills. There are a lot of reasons a legislator may vote yes on a bill he or she disagrees with. Since Boeing is in the headlines, I’ll use the example of the Advisory Vote on SB 6690, a bill that raised B&O taxes on all aerospace manufacturing that passed this year, with a huge majority. Republicans, who absolutely did not want this votes yea. Why?
In 2003, the state gave Boeing a reduced rate on B&O that was to sunset in 2024. Of course, a company has to consider all costs, including taxes when making decisions such as what state to do business in. They were considering moving, since their B&O was scheduled to increase by a great deal in 2024. (Note: there are many reasons they had for moving, to be sure, but the B&O was a big part – it’s a burdensome and unfair tax) Several years ago, you will probably remember that the Legislature gave all aerospace manufacturing a reduced B&O rate – what they really did was push the sunset date for the B&O rate out to 2040. In effect, it didn’t give it a new tax break at all – it just extended the one they had out two decades.
Republicans tried to get that same rate for all manufacturing businesses, thinking that if aerospace benefited from reducing the heavy burden of the B&O, all manufacturing would. Getting businesses to come to Washington is a good thing, right? The Republicans worked out a deal with Democrats to pass the bill, and they were able to do so. However, Inslee vetoed it.
That veto had some very serious ramifications. Because of the inequity between manufacturing company B&O taxes, the disparity between the rates turned into a huge dispute with the WTO. The WTO was going to levy huge crippling fines against Boeing. The Legislature had two options to fix this. They could either give all manufacturing the same lower rate, thus providing equity for all manufacturing, or they could raise the tax on aerospace. The Republicans wanted the lower rate on all manufacturing, but the Democrats refused, so the Legislature was forced this year to repeal that lower rate. The Republicans who voted yes did so because Boeing needed it to avoid the huge fines, even as these same Republicans have worked over the years to get the rate to apply to all manufacturing instead.
Boeing is continuing the process of leaving the state, as a result. Governor Inslee said yesterday that we should do away with Boeing’s tax benefit since they are leaving. As you can see above, that is totally disingenuous – he already did away with the tax break, and his veto was the cause of the increase in their taxes.
Confusing? Yes. Easy to explain? No. This has been a problem over the years when it comes to advisory votes. It’s easy for me to tell everyone just to vote “repealed.” What isn’t so easy is to take each one and explain everything about it. There are many different reasons our Republican legislators might vote yea on an Advisory Vote bill, even if they disagree wholeheartedly.
The bill is one of the Advisory votes on your ballot that will be coming out in a couple weeks.
Advisory Votes on Your Ballot this year –
#32 – SB 5323 – Plastic Bags – Vote “repealed”
#33 – SB 5628 – Tax on Heavy Equipment – Vote “repealed”
#34 – SB 6493 – Increased B&O Tax on services – Vote “repealed”
#35 – SB 6690 – Increased B&O Taxes on aerospace – Vote “repealed”