Voters willing to pay more to get more

Welcome to Permanent Defense’s post-primary Special Report on local levies and propositions in the September 14th, 2004 election.

Research by Permanent Defense into the results of the September 14th, 2004 Primary shows that Washington State voters continue to support their local public services, overwhelmingly supporting necessary taxes to benefit public services by voting for local levies and propositions.

The results of local levies and propositions in the primary election are an excellent measure of what voters think about taxes and public services. They surpass polls and surveys as a way to gauge voters’ moods and feelings towards government.

For years, Washington’s electorate has had to put up with a slew of lies and misleading statements put out by anti-tax initiative profiteer Tim Eyman, who often claims that voters are overwhelmingly in favor of his tax-cutting initiatives because their taxes, especially property taxes, are too high, and government is not as efficient or lean as it could be. Voters obviously disagree with this sentiment, and they showed that in the September 14th, 2004 primary.

To create this report, Permanent Defense contacted each county’s auditor or elections divisions to obtain information about local levy and proposition data, including requirements for passage, type of levy or proposition, and the actual election returns.

Report Breakdown

Counties Included: 24
(Had Propositions on Primary Ballot)
Counties Not Included: 15
(No Propositions on Primary Ballot)

Key Terms and Definitions
Excess Levy – Special levy of additional taxes by a special district, to prevent the impairment of an obligation. Requires a 60% supermajority vote to pass. More: MRSC

Levy Lid Lift – A proposal to “lift” the limit, or “lid” of a levy, to allow for additional property taxes to be collected. Requires a simple majority vote to pass. More: MRSC

Bond – A certificate of debt issued by a government guaranteeing payment of the original investment plus interest by a specified future date. More: MRSC

>>> Download the raw data in PDF format

Out of one hundred and thirty-two levies and propositions that were on the primary ballot, one hundred were approved — a great success ratio, especially considering that more than half of the measures that were approved required a 60% supermajority vote and 40% minimum turnout, which they met.

We are pleased to present the results of our research to the general public.

Voters support first responders and emergency services

In this first section, we look at voters’ support for first responders and emergency services. To the left, statistics compiled from all counties with relevant propositions in the primary are available. To the right, a breakdown by county is available. You can also download the raw data for more information about your county.

Statewide Snapshot County-by-County
There were a total of ninety-nine propositions on the primary ballot across the state related to public safety. Measures concerned the financing of first responders and emergency services, or annexation. One or more of the ninety-nine propositions appeared on the ballots of twenty-four counties. The remaining fifteen counties had no public safety propositions on the ballot at all.
Breakdown by Passage Pass/failure record per county
  • 37 passed with a simple majority, (50% +)
  • 47 passed with a supermajority, (60% +)
  • 11 failed with a simple majority required,
  • 2 failed with a supermajority required,
  • 2 failed with a supermajority required but would have passed if a simple majority was sufficient (minimum turnout, if any, was met).
  • Adams County – 1 passed
  • Benton County – 1 failed
  • Chelan County – 1 passed, 1 failed
  • Clallam County – 1 passed
  • Clark County – 5 passed,1 failed
  • Grant County – 1 passed, 1 failed
  • Grays Harbor County – 6 passed
  • Island County – 1 passed
  • Jefferson County – 1 passed
  • King County – 9 passed, 1 failed
  • Lewis County – 2 passed, 3 failed
  • Mason County – 6 passed
  • Pacific County – 1 passed
  • Pierce County – 10 passed, 2 failed
  • San Juan County – 1 passed
  • Skagit County – 2 passed, 1 failed
  • Skamania County – 1 passed
  • Snohomish County – 20 passed, 2 failed
  • Spokane County – 9 passed
  • Thurston County – 6 passed, 2 failed
  • Yakima County – 2 failed
Total: 84 passed (84%), 15 failed
Breakdown by Taxing Authority
  • 80 were for fire districts,
  • 16 were for cities,
  • 3 were for hospital districts.
Breakdown by Type
  • 46 were excess, permanent, or other levies,
  • 44 were levy lid lifts,
  • 5 were bonds,
  • 4 were annexation propositions.

Voters support public education & libraries

In this second section, we look at voters’ support for public education and libraries. To the left, statistics compiled from all counties with relevant propositions in the primary are available. To the right, a breakdown by county is available. You can also download the raw data for more information about your county.

Statewide Snapshot County-by-County
There were a total of fourteen propositions on the primary ballot across the state related to education (kindergarten through twelfth grade) or libraries. Measures concerned either financing or annexation. One or more of the fourteen propositions appeared on the ballots of seven counties. The remaining thirty-two counties had no education or library propositions on the ballot at all.
Breakdown by Passage Pass/failure record per county
  • 4 passed with a simple majority, (50% +)
  • 3 passed with a supermajority, (60% +)
  • 1 failed with a simple majority required,
  • 2 failed with a supermajority required,
  • 4 failed with a supermajority required but would have passed if s simple majority was sufficient (minimum turnout, if any, was met).
  • Clark County – 2 passed
  • Island County – 1 passed, 2 failed
  • King County – 2 passed
  • Lewis County – 1 passed
  • Snohomish County – 2 passed, 1 failed
  • Stevens – 1 failed
  • Wahkiakum – 1 failed
Total: 7 passed, 7 failed Counties with school/library propositions that would have passed had they required a simple majority:
Breakdown by Taxing Authority
  • Wahkiakum – 1 proposition
  • Island – 1 proposition
  • Lewis – 1 proposition
  • Snohomish – 1 proposition
  • 6 were for School Districts,
  • 8 were for Library Districts.
Breakdown by Type
  • 6 were bonds,
  • 4 were annexation propositions.
  • 3 were excess, permanent, or other levies,
  • 1 was a levy lid lift.

Voters support parks and other public services

In this third section, we look at voters’ support for parks and other public services. To the left, statistics compiled from all counties with relevant levies and propositions in the primary are available. To the right, a breakdown by county is available. You can also download the raw data for more information about your county.

Statewide Snapshot County-by-County
There were a total of nineteen levies and propositions on the primary ballot across the state related to financing of parks and other public services, along with several annexation proposals. One or more of the nineteen propositions appeared on the ballots of thirteen counties. The remaining thirty-two counties had no parks or other propositions on the ballot at all.
Breakdown by Passage Pass/failure record per county
  • 3 passed with a simple majority, (50% +)
  • 6 passed with a supermajority, (60% +)
  • 6 failed with a simple majority required,
  • 3 failed with a supermajority required,
  • 1 failed with a supermajority required but would have passed if a simple majority was sufficient (minimum turnout, if any, was met).
  • Adams County – 2 passed
  • Benton County – 2 failed
  • Island County – 1 failed
  • King County – 1 failed
  • Pacific County – 2 failed
  • Pierce County – 1 failed
  • San Juan County – 1 passed
  • Skamania County – 1 passed
  • Snohomish County – 2 passed
  • Spokane County- 1 passed, 1 failed
  • Stevens County – 2 failed
  • Thurston – 1 passed
  • Whitman – 1 passed
Total: 9 passed, 10 failed (all four parks propositions are included in the nine that passed)
Breakdown by Purpose/Taxing Authority
  • 4 were for parks,
  • 8 were for cities, (but not parks-related)
  • 5 were for counties, (but not parks-related)
  • 2 were for other special districts.
Note: Propositions that were well-crafted and clearly designed to improve a particular public service received the largest margins and stood a much better chance of passing.
Breakdown by Type
  • All four parks propositions passed
  • 2 tax increases (for transit and utilities) passed
  • Rural counties tended to reject levy increases not associated with services (Benton, Pacific)
  • 7 were excess, permanent, or other levies,
  • 5 were measures requiring only a simple majority,
  • 4 were bonds.

Conclusion

Out of a total of 132 levies and propositions on the primary ballot across the State of Washington, 100 passed on September 14th.

That’s an approval rate of 75%! There was an average of five propositions per county (of the twenty-four that had any on their ballot).

Another seven levies or propositions would have passed had the requirement for those propositions been only a simple majority. Supermajorities are often difficult to achieve, but in the case of the September 14th Primary, voters showed they were up to the challenge. More measures were approved by supermajority vote than were approved by simple majority vote (44 simple majority, 56 supermajority), showing a strong degree of support for local public services.

The most important result of this report could not be more clear: there is no such thing as a “tax revolt” in Washington. Voters are smart enough to understand that we can’t have everything and not pay for it.

Voters are willing to approve higher taxes on themselves in order to pay for vital services such as first responders, school districts, libaries, and parks. That’s because these are all services that keep Washington State’s communities vibrant — a truth that Tim Eyman and anti-government forces refuse to acknowledge.

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