One of my favorite fall rituals is the arrival of our ballots for the November elections. I love public policy and I love to vote. Participating in our democracy is such an amazing privilege.
This fall, mostly local elections and local issues dominate our ballots. There is, however, an important statewide vote that would have enormous impacts on hospitals and health systems: Initiative 1366. The WSHA Board of Trustees has voted unanimously for WSHA to oppose the initiative.
I – 1366 directs the Washington State Legislature to approve a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue or repeal any existing tax exemptions. If the legislature does not pass the constitutional amendment by April 2016, the state sales tax would automatically be cut from 6.5% to 5.5%. This sales tax cut would mean a loss of $2 billion per biennium in funding for our schools, universities, health care and other public services. We are particularly concerned about cuts to mental health — a significant area of unprotected state spending for which we only recently secured significant new investments.
We continue to work with the state to find ways to streamline their services and improve efficiencies. However, our state cannot absorb a cut of this magnitude without major loss of services. I hope you’ll join me in voting, and in voting against I-1366. Our ability to sustain funding for health care could rest on its defeat.
Senior Vice President
Advocacy and Government Affairs