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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Let’s get started on Nov. 5 ballot

While Americans have focused tremendous national angst on next year’s presidential elections, Washingtonians shouldn’t forget that there’s an election coming up Nov. 5. Over the next few weeks, we will provide voters with analysis of the various ballot measures and local races that they must decide. Today, we start with three statewide initiatives and two Spokane propositions. REFERENDUM 88 - YES In 1998, Washington voters passed an initiative that prohibited state and local government from making decisions on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, education and contracting. Twenty years later, Washington residents have a much better understanding of how much discrimination has harmed those and other groups over the decades. Referendum 88 would mostly undo that old measure, allowing state and local governments to provide a leg up to historically underserved groups but forbidding quotas. State and local governments need to the ability to provide a leg up. Technically, it asks voters to affirm Initiative 1000, which lawmakers passed this year after nearly 400,000 voters petitioned them to do so. It’s only on the ballot because opponents gathered signatures to force a referendum. Voters should support the goals of making government business and education more accessible to all with a Yes vote on Referendum 88. INITIATIVE 976 - NO Ballot initiative maven Tim Eyman is back at it again, this time asking voters to slash vehicle registration fees. Voters shouldn’t fall for his schtick. If Initiative 976 passes, state and local governments would lose more than $4 billion for transportation projects over the next six years. Like potholes and congestion? This is how you get more of them. I-976 would set a flat rate of $30 for vehicle registration fees. That would be a huge win for owners of large, expensive vehicles. Few people like paying taxes and fees, but the current vehicle registration system is a reasonable way to raise money to keep state and local transportation systems flowing. Those dollars pay to fill potholes, repair bridges, support public transportation and more. There’s nothing wrong with having a conversation about reforming the transportation revenue model, but wholesale slashing it without any plan for how to replace the funds would be a tremendous mistake. Vote No on I-976. SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 8200 - YES If a catastrophe strikes Washington, the Legislature might need to act quickly to make sure that state and local government services continue. Senate Joint Resolution 8200 would amend the state constitution to give it that power. Article II, Section 42 of the constitution now authorizes the Legislature to take emergency actions in the event of an “enemy attack.” This initiative would give lawmakers the same authority in the event of “catastrophic incidents.” It shouldn’t matter how the disaster happened. If the emergency arises from a missile or an earthquake, Washington needs to continue to work. Vote Yes on SJR 8200. SPOKANE PROPOSITION 1 - YES Spokane Proposition 1 asks voters to amend the City Charter to require that all collective bargaining be conducted transparently. Right now, negotiations with public employee unions can take place behind closed doors. Only when the deal is reached does the public get to see it. It’s not even a slam dunk that the contract will appear on the city’s website after the ink dries. The public pays for the salaries and benefits in those contracts so the public ought to be able to see how they are negotiated and what the final deal is. Likewise, union members should get to ensure that their representatives are performing well. Transparency will keep everyone honest. Vote Yes on Prop. 1. VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION 2 - YES Let’s be clear. No one at Spokane City Hall is talking about creating a local income tax. Heck, the Washington Supreme Court probably wouldn’t allow it if the city tried. So Proposition 2, which would amend the City Charter to forbid a local income tax, is pretty superfluous. But it’s there on the ballot, so voters must choose. They might as well vote Yes and make it abundantly clear to all future City Councils that they have plenty of ways to raise revenue and shouldn’t even think about an income tax.
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