As I reported earlier today, a new SurveyUSA/KING-5 poll shows a high level of uncertainty on three initiatives and one referendum on this November's ballot: About a quarter of voters surveyed on all four measures said they didn't yet know how they planned to vote.

Only one measure, reinstating a Tim Eyman initiative requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes, had majority support in the poll. That leaves the remaining measures up in the air---and raises the possibility that, as with the two competing liquor initiatives, two conflicting measures could both pass.

The proposals in this case are Referendum 52 and Initiative 1107. The latter would repeal sales taxes on candy, soda, beer, and bottled water; the second would make the bottled water tax permanent (it, along with the taxes on soda and beer, is scheduled to expire in 2013) and use it to finance bonds to pay to weatherize public schools across the state.

So what happens if both pass? David Ammons, spokesman for state Secretary of State Sam Reed, says the repeal would take precedent over the bond-funding bottled water tax, leaving the school bonds without a funding source.

"The part of the bill that provides for the water tax in the future would obviously not be operative, because it wouldn't exist," Ammons says, "so the legislature would need to find another funding source for how the bonds would be paid off over time." The legislature could also choose to do nothing and let the program remain unfunded or abolish the program altogether.

Any decision by the state can, of course, be challenged in court. However, Ammons says that if both 1107 and 52 pass, "It would seem to me clearly [in that case], the votes wanted the program but they didn't want that particular tax.

"Voters do that all the time---they send mixed signals or[adopt]  unfunded mandates," Ammons says.
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