What is Initiative 1464?
Initiative 1464 is a statewide initiative appearing on your November 2016 ballot. If approved, it will increase transparency and accountability in government, limit the influence of big money in our elections and give regular people a stronger voice in our democracy.
Why do we need to increase transparency and accountability?
Our current system has made it far too easy for lobbyists to influence government decisions and elected officials through campaign contributions and gives a wealthy few too much control of our government.
How will Initiative 1464 increase transparency and accountability in our election process?
Initiative 1464 makes common sense reforms proven to work in other states. Some of the most important reforms are:
- Requiring SuperPACs to include the names of their top donors in their ads so voters know who is really trying to influence them.
- Requiring online public reporting of lobbyist information about activity, political spending, and compensation.
- Restricting campaign contributions from lobbyists and government contractors who may believe they are buying influence with elected leaders.
What does I-1464 do about dark money?
Initiative 1464 reduces the problem of “dark money” by improving disclosure laws to require that political ads list the names of real donors – individuals, corporations, unions – behind the ads we see on television, hear on the radio, and read in our inboxes. While Initiative 1464 cannot on its own end the influence of independent expenditures in our election process, it will take important steps in the right direction.
How will Initiative 1464 limit the influence of big money in politics?
Initiative 1464 limits the influence of big money by:
- Prohibiting large campaign contributions from lobbyists and public contractors.
- Closing the revolving door between government and lobbying by making politicians and public officials wait three years before they can lobby their former offices or the legislature.
- Increasing penalties for violating ethics and campaign finance laws.
How much will Initiative 1464 cost?
Enforcement of campaign finance and ethics laws, and the voluntary, taxpayer directed donor system would cost $30 million per year which is paid for by closing a special interest tax loophole, as verified by the State’s official fiscal impact study of Initiative 1464.
How will Initiative 1464 be paid for?
Initiative 1464 is funded by closing a special interest tax loophole that only benefits people from a handful of other states, so the initiative doesn’t cost Washington residents a cent, and doesn’t take money away from other critical priorities like education, transportation, or public safety as verified by the State’s official fiscal impact study of Initiative 1464.
Why is closing the nonresident sales tax loophole a good way to pay for this?
The Washington Budget and Policy Center has stated unequivocally that: “there is no evidence that the sales tax break creates jobs or stimulates business activity in Washington state.” Their analysis found the nonresident tax break to be a "wasteful” tax loophole that does not achieve any measurable public goal.
Why should tax dollars go to candidates running for office?
Initiative 1464 creates a voluntary public donor system so that regular people have the opportunity to support the candidate of their choice. If you don’t want tax dollars to go to a political campaign, you don’t have to direct your credits to any candidates. This will drive candidates to spend more time focusing on their constituents instead of cozying up to big money donors.
Why do we need a new unproven donor system?
Far from being unproven, the voluntary program created by Initiative 1464 follows the same model that has been successful in eighteen states, including Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, and Virginia. With voluntary tax credit systems in those states, everyone decides whether or not they want to direct some of their tax dollars to support a candidate. Those who want to can. And if a person doesn’t want their tax dollars to go to a campaign, they won’t.
How can we be sure candidates won’t abuse the new public donor system for their own gain?
Initiative 1464 will create an accountability system to protect the integrity of your financial support by strengthening rules for all lobbyists and politicians. Candidates running for office who choose to accept public money will also have to follow stronger campaign finance laws that exist today. Specifically, Initiative 1464 dictates that:
- Candidates have to prove viability by raising contributions of at least $10 from at least 75 people in their district before they can receive funds via the voluntary public donor system. Fake candidates won’t be able to meet that threshold.
- Funds from the public donor system cannot be used for personal benefit.
- Candidates who drop out have to return surplus funds to the state.
- Candidates who receive public donor funds cannot transfer those dollars to another candidate or campaign.
- Candidates can no longer take advantage of an existing loophole that allows them to use campaign contributions to pay themselves an unlimited amount for time spent campaigning. I-1464 would limit candidates to reimbursing themselves at a rate no higher than the state’s median income.
Is it true some people who can’t vote can still give money to candidates?
Federal law dictates that legal permanent residents – “green card” holders, among them – are verified legal residents and taxpayers, guaranteeing them the freedom to make contributions to campaigns even though they may not currently be allowed to vote in our elections. Initiative 1464 does not change this federal law.
What about people who aren’t citizens who are here illegally
Initiative 1464 has several strict protections for taxpayer dollars donated voluntarily through the public finance system in order to ensure that politicians and the election system alike are held to higher standards of transparency and accountability than currently exist. For example, Initiative 1464 contains the following protections:
- Only registered voters have access to the funds generated by the voluntary public finance system.
- Anyone who can legally donate to a candidate but is not currently allowed to vote in our elections – “green card” holders, for example – must be verified by the Public Disclosure System as a legal permanent resident before gaining access to the voluntary public finance system.
Seattle voters passed an initiative last year – Honest Elections – that also empowers regular people in our election system. Isn’t this the same thing?
No. While both measures were modeled on proven reforms made in other states, there are some important differences between Initiative 1464 and the measure passed by Seattle voters last year. The primary differences are, in short:
- Initiative 1464 fixes the Washington State’s “Top 5” rule to shed more light on who is really paying for political ads through Super PACs.
- The proposed voluntary statewide Democracy Credit system is simpler to implement, more affordable for taxpayers, and easier to administer than the Seattle system.
- Funding mechanisms: Initiative 1464 repeals an out-of-state sales tax loophole while Honest Elections raised property taxes in Seattle.