Opinion

Roundup of 2011 election initiatives | Groshart

Five measures are on the ballot this November — three initiatives and two referendums from the Legislature to the public. Here’s the Bellevue Reporter’s take.

• Initiative 1125: Tolls and highway taxes. Nobody likes tolls and taxes, but if our state is going to have any hope of building highways and moving people, it’s going to take both. Tim Eyman’s initiative would make both nearly impossible. Vote no on I-1125.

Eyman wants only the Legislature to be able to set tolls. That sounds good — political accountability and all that — but in reality it would make financing our roads even more expensive. Bonding companies — and bonds are the only real way to build roads — find it overly risky to leave toll-setting to the whims of legislators. As a consequence, they rate such road bonds lower, which means the state has to pay a higher interest rate. That makes the state have to pay more to finance the road projects. That means fewer roads.

Tolls are a user fee; only those who use such roads pay a toll. That’s the way it should be.

But don’t just take our word on this; transportation experts across the state oppose I-1125. So do business, labor and environmental leaders. Vote no on I-1125.

• Initiative 1183: Sale of beer, wine and hard liquor. There are lots of things a state should do. Peddling beer, wine and hard liquor isn’t one of them. Vote yes on this initiative.

Didn’t we already vote “no” on this last year? Yes, but the two measures we had before us last year had flaws. This one is far better.

The state would stop selling spirits and auction off its liquor stores. Additional private liquor stores could open, but only if they meet a size requirement (no, there won’t be liquor for sale at every neighborhood gas station). Another point: while I-1183 gets the state out of the liquor selling business, it continues the state’s enforcement to keep booze out of the hands of our kids. In fact, the initiative doubles the fines for businesses selling alcohol to minors. Vote yes on I-1183.

• Initiative 1163: Training, background checks for long-term health workers. This sounds good — shouldn’t long-term care workers have training to serve elderly and disabled people? And shouldn’t we know if they have a shady past? Sure, but the initiative is misleading.

In fact, such training already is required by the state. Background checks already are performed.

What’s really going on is an attempt by the Service Employees International Union to force the state to come up with an estimated $80 million for such programs while it already is facing another $2.8 billion deficit. There’s no reason to gut other programs or raise taxes for such a questionable measure. Vote no on I-1163.

• Senate Joint Resolution 8205. This measure cleans up language in the state Constitution to make it clear that otherwise-eligible citizens of the United States can vote here if they have resided in Washington, and in their county and precinct, for at least 30 days before the election. There’s no organized opposition to the measure. Vote yes on SJR 8205.

• Senate Joint Resolution 8206. This would require the Legislature to transfer additional money to its budget stabilization account in each fiscal biennium in which the state has received “extraordinary revenue growth,” as defined, with certain limitations.

If you’re scratching your head, here’s the bottom line. Remember when the state was booming and the Legislature was spending like there was no tomorrow? We all know that tomorrow eventually came.

SJR 8206 would mandate that some of the “extraordinary” revenue the state receives in good times would be saved, rather than spent. Isn’t that what we do with our household budgets? The state should, too. Vote yes on SJR 8206.

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