Since the passage of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 200 in 1998, Washington has become one of only two states in the nation to explicitly ban outreach to historically marginalized communities to help determine outcomes in public education, contracting, and employment, and one of only eight states nationally that bans affirmative action considerations.
Communities of color were particularly impacted by the passage of I-200. The number of public contracts going to certified women and minority owned business before I-200 averaged 10%. Since I-200, that number has dropped closer to 3%. This decline represents a $3.5 billion-dollar loss in income over the past two decades. In addition, since I-200, the number of black, Native-American, and Pacific Islander students enrolled in four-year public universities has decreased statewide.
Seeking to address these trends, nearly 400,000 Washington voters petitioned the legislature last year to support I-1000, an initiative that offers modest measures to increase access and opportunities for historically underrepresented people, including women, veterans and people of color, by allowing outreach and recruitment of qualified candidates, but banning quotas and preferential treatment. I-1000 passed the legislature and was signed by Governor Inslee. Now voters must approve it.
It is important that we acknowledge the history of discrimination and racial exclusion both in this country and in this state, and their lasting impact. With I-1000, we have an opportunity to begin to address that history. Please join me in voting to approve I-1000/Ref. 88 by Nov. 5.