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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Grading the Legislature

OLYMPIA -- Familiarity with the Legislature may not breed contempt, according to new survey results from The Elway Poll. In the case of lobbyists, it may breed a bit of acceptance.

Elway asked voters and lobbyists to grade the 2015 Legislature on several topics, and an overall grade.

The 210 lobbyists combined for an overall grade of C-, with a Grade Point Average of 1.73. The 502 voters came up with an overall grade of D+ with a GPA of 1.49. 

 Voters and lobbyists were almost equally like to give legislators Ds or Fs, with 45 percent of voters and 44 percent of the lobbyists handing out grades that no parent would want to see on their kid's report card. Where the GPA improved when lobbyists were grading was on the up side. Five percent of lobbyists gave them As and 20 percent gave the Bs, compared to 1 percent and 12 percent, respectively, for voters who were surveyed.

The survey of lobbyists went farther, and asked for grades of specific areas of legislation. Legislators got their highest grades an average of 2.99 for higher education and 2.93 for transportation, which were good for B - in both categories.  The lowest was 1.99 for natural resource and environmental issues.

When grading the "players" -- the four caucuses and Gov. Jay Inslee -- Senate Republicans got the best grades from lobbyists, with 26 percent giving them an A and 27 percent giving them a B. Inslee got the worst, with one in four giving him an F and one in three giving him a D. 

The survey of voters produced an interesting head-scratcher. Asked if divided party control of the Legislature -- which Washington has had for the last three years -- makes it more productive or less productive, and two out of three said "less productive." Asked divided control results in better outcomes for the state, 57 percent said divided control resulted in better outcomes. It would seem that for voters, less is more when it comes to legislative production.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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