When constitutional amendments appear on the general election ballot, there is almost never an educational campaign to explain these usually complex issues. That is the case this year with two Senate Joint Resolutions: 8221 and 8223.
The Legislature is proposing both of these constitutional amendments and voters should approve them.
The purpose of SJR 8221 is to lower the state’s allowable debt limit by one percentage point, to 8 percent, and averaging it over six years.
This would stabilize the state’s ability to borrow and reduce its long-term debt burden in graduated steps. It would lower the portion of the state’s budget used to pay principal and interest, freeing up funds to investment locally to support job creation.
The other constitutional amendment would give the University of Washington and Washington State University improved flexibility to invest its pension, retirement and other public funds. The goal is to achieve a higher rate of return, providing the schools with more income without tapping taxpayers.
At a time when the burden of paying for a higher education has been shifted from the state to students and their families through double-digit tuition hikes, this is a common sense, and necessary, constitutional change.
It is worth noting that both proposed amendments received near-unanimous votes in the Legislature.