Polls offer conflicting picture on voter initiatives


Five-and-a-half months until the general election, a slate of polling shows that Washingtonians currently support a series of conservative initiatives set to appear on the November ballot.

On Thursday, Cascade PBS/Elway released polling that shows voters currently support Initiative 2109 to repeal the capital gains tax, Initiative 2117 to repeal the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), and Initiative 2124 to allow more people to opt out of the state’s long-term care program.

According to the poll, 41% of voters would vote to repeal the state’s cap and invest program while 31% would vote to keep it; 47% would vote to repeal the capital gains tax compared to 36% who like to see it remain; and 47% would support allowing additional opt-outs of the state’s long-term care program compared to 25% who would keep it.

The polling, which sampled 403 registered voters, has a margin of error of 5% and comes the same week as opponents of I-209 launched a statewide campaign in Spokane, Yakima, Vancouver and Burien on Wednesday. At a campaign event in Vancouver, Nohemi Bautista, the

owner and operator of CasaLuna Daycare Center in Yakima, said the Initiative would “cut billions of dollars in assistance.”

“Every one of the parents whose kids I look after and educate relies on this assistance. These parents are healthcare workers, farmworkers, and warehouse workers. They do jobs that are essential for our community to thrive,” Bautista said. “If Initiative 2109 passes, these parents may not be able to afford childcare and not be able to do these critical jobs.”

According to a fiscal note for the proposal prepared by the Office of Fiscal Management, the initiative would cut $5.66 billion earmarked for education through 2029. The 7% tax, passed by the Legislature in 2021, applies to earnings over $250,000 a year on long-term capital assets such as bonds and stocks.

When signing the bill into law, Gov. Jay Inslee estimated that less than 1 percent (.23%) of Washingtonians would pay the tax. Senate Majority leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, told The Chronicle in February that the tax is “paid by approximately 3,300 of the richest households in our state — including just eight in Lewis and Skamania Counties combined — but all 8 million Washingtonians feel its benefits every day.”

On Wednesday, the campaign released polling conducted between April 11 and 14 that showed 62% of voters opposed Initiative 2109. The poll, conducted by GBAO strategies, surveyed 600 likely voters and had a 4% margin of error.

Pushing back against the polling, Washington GOP Chairman Jim Walsh said while “every political poll should be taken with a grain of salt, this desperate nonsense bought and paid for by the ‘Defend Washington’ PAC should be taken with a whole salt lick!”

“Everyone knows what shady PACs like ‘Defend Washington’ are: Payola operations to line the pockets of left-wing partisan consultant groups like GBAO and individual activists,” Walsh wrote in an email. “I-2109, I-2117 and I-2124 are popular. Each easily gathered tens of thousands more signatures than needed to qualify for the general election ballot. The people of this state are fed up with lies about ‘pennies,’ ridiculous taxes, and insults from sanctimonious wannabe ‘elites.’ ”

On Friday, the Association of Washington Business announced that its board of directors had voted to endorse the initiatives to repeal the capital gains tax and allow opt-outs of the state’s long-term care insurance program. Board members voted to remain neutral on an initiative to repeal the CCA.

“Washington is a high-cost state for employers, but the lack of an income tax has historically been a competitive advantage,” said AWB President Kris Johnson in a statement. “When lawmakers chose to implement a capital gains tax, we lost one of our key advantages and moved a step closer to an income tax, which Washingtonians have repeatedly rejected. We hope voters will say yes to I-2109 and support tax policies that make it easier, not harder, to start and grow in business in Washington.”

In the announcement, Johnson said while board members “overwhelmingly agree” the CCA “has challenges and needs reform,’ there was not a consensus on whether the program should be repealed.

“After much discussion, our board decided to remain neutral on this initiative,” Johnson said.