October 14, 2009 in City

Flood of last-minute cash targets I-1033

Curt Woodward Associated Press
 

OLYMPIA – National labor unions and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates are among the donors who have poured nearly $1.5 million of last-minute cash into the campaign against Initiative 1033, a ballot measure that would slow the growth of state and local governments.

The donations were collected over the past two weeks, but weren’t disclosed publicly until Saturday, when the No on I-1033 campaign reported its recent fundraising efforts to state campaign regulators.

The infusion of cash brought the “no” campaign’s reported balance to about $2.5 million, with less than a month until the Nov. 3 general election.

Under state law, Monday was the deadline for total contributions of more than $5,000 from any single source. Ballots in Washington’s mostly vote-by-mail election should be on the way to voters on Friday.

If approved by voters, I-1033 would cap the annual growth of state, county and city general funds at the rate of inflation plus population growth. Revenue above the cap would be used to reduce property taxes. Voters could separately approve additional revenue sources that go over the growth cap.

Major last-minute donations to the opposition campaign included $200,000 each from the Washington, D.C. headquarters of two public employee unions: The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the National Education Association, which represents teachers.

That brought the total donations against I-1033 from each of those unions to more than $300,000, according to campaign finance reports.

Campaign finance reports also show big donations from sources closer to home. The state council of the Service Employees International Union wrote two checks for a total of $150,000 last week, bringing its total donation to $290,000.

Gates, whose charitable foundation is headquartered in Seattle, gave $100,000 on Oct. 1. That was Gates’ only reported donation to the No on I-1033 campaign.

The money should help expand its TV advertising blitz, which began last week. Television ads were scheduled to begin airing Tuesday in new markets in Central Washington, No on I-1033 spokesman Scott Whiteaker said.

“From the very beginning, we’ve talked about running a very aggressive campaign, and raising the resources to do so. And we’re right on track,” Whiteaker said.

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