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Voter guide survives legislator scrutiny

The 2013 state voter guide to ballot measures jumped its last hurdle Wednesday – review by 18 legislative leaders on a committee named Legislative Council.

The so-called “blue book” now heads to the printer, and copies will be mailed to every household in the state with registered voters.

The only two statewide proposals on the Nov. 5 ballot relate to education – one directly and one less so.

What’s currently called Initiative 22 is the proposed $950 million income tax increase that would provide extra funding for preschool and K-12 education. Proposition AA, placed on the ballot by the legislature, would set a 15 percent wholesale tax and a 10 percent retail levy on marijuana sales. The first $40 million of revenue from the wholesale tax would go to the state school construction fund.

The blue book is written by non-partisan legislative staffers. Legislative Council doesn’t vote to approve the book but can make amendments to the text – if there are at least 12 votes in favor of a wording change.

The council spent two hours on Initiative 22, most of it devoted to a succession of Republican-proposed amendments, only one of which passed. (The panel has 10 Democrats and eight Republicans.)

Most of the GOP changes proposed adding language about the measure’s impact on small business and on taxpayers in wealthier school districts and about the current surplus in the State Education Fund. (Opponents of the plan argue that it would be a tax burden on small business owners who report business income on individual tax returns, that residents of some suburban counties would pay more in new taxes than their school districts would receive in new revenue and that the state already has a next egg it can use to fund education reforms.

A couple of the proposed tweaks actually were informative, like a suggested clarification about limits on the autonomy of principals in spending certain new funds. But the Democratic majority rejected defeated them all, except for one minor wording change to clarify that Initiative 22 would “increase” school funding.

Read what the blue book says about Initiative 22.

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