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Sat., Nov. 17, 2007

Smart bombs

Republican leaders pounced when the Washington state Supreme Court overturned Initiative 747 with the argument that voters might not have understood what they were voting for when they elected to place a 1 percent cap on property tax collections. They bravely stood up for the masses and mocked the elites who made the voters-are-dumb decision.

It didn’t hurt that they also wanted to keep the 1 percent cap, but let’s not let that cloud their selfless denunciations.

As Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, said in a guest column on Friday, “The judges’ majority vote, in effect, said voters were too stupid to understand the initiative and they, these judges, are far smarter than us ‘common’ voters.”

It’s this defense of the voters that had Republican legislators applauding the apparent passage of the ballot measure allowing a simple majority of voters to decide the fate of school levies. Oh, wait. They opposed that.

Now they’re urging school districts to proceed with caution.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, the ranking Republican on the House Finance Committee, said, “If school districts aggressively use this new authority to squeeze additional money from taxpayers, there could be a backlash – even a taxpayer revolt.”

But the only way districts can get that money is if voters say it’s OK.

Does he fear they’re too dumb to understand?

Doesn’t add up

Now, I wouldn’t call voters dumb, but their collective wisdom has dropped contradictory results into the laps of lawmakers.

They’ve made it clear via ballot initiatives that they want property tax collections that don’t keep pace with inflation, limits on government spending, increased teacher pay and the hiring of more teachers to reduce class sizes.

It’s not just the kids who struggle with math.

For the people?

Tim Eyman is either livid or elated with the court’s decision to overturn I-747. Publicly, he’s livid, because he purports to be channeling the wishes of the voters. But I suspect he’s less interested in voters’ wishes than he is with low taxes, low spending and another opportunity to push those causes.

If he were merely a conduit for the voters, he would’ve protested loudly and launched initiatives when the Legislature failed to follow the will of the people and fully fund Initiatives 728 and 732, both of which called for a lot more spending on education.

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