by Sherrie Bond
This week the Washington State Legislature went into a 105 day session with the top priority being a balanced budget that includes meeting federally required standards of funding education; two extremely important prerequisites with miles between the suggested solutions. Logically the simplistic resolution would be paring down the expenditures while reallocating funds to cover the necessities. Isn’t that what you’d do in your household if funds were out of balance? Common sense, huh?
Unfortunately, common sense budgeting and civic financial management are horses of different colors and never the twain shall meet! (In fact, as the state budget currently stands its clear the “twain” has completely run off the “twacks”!) Why? I believe the major obstacle lies squarely at the feet of elected officials who have forgotten (or perhaps never recognized) their assigned public duty is to work cooperatively and for the greatest benefit to the citizens of the Evergreen State. Legislation is not akin to an athletic challenge wherein one team bests the other. There is no Super Bowl of Legislators! By strict definition Legislation is: the action of legislating; specifically: the exercise of the power and function of making rules (as laws) that have the force of authority by virtue of their promulgation by an official organ of a state or other organization . . . Within that definition I do not see specifications of presented legislation only approved/passed if the individual introducing the Bill sits on the left or right side of the aisle.
It will take some real convincing for me to accept the idea that every elected official goes to work each day, duty-bound and unbiased in their opinions, keeping the “righting of the ship” uppermost in their minds. I personally believe many legislators have consideration for themselves first, re-election/job security (theirs, not yours) second and let the chips fall where they may as a final thought.
Twenty-two years ago, I made my first comments regarding school funding at a Spotted Owl Panel held at Skagit Valley Community College in Mt. Vernon, Wa. The issue at that time hinged on killing the goose laying the golden egg (the timber industry) in exchange for a Northern Spotted who apparently was/is intellectually challenged and wouldn’t fly if the tree in which his butt was parked was being hewn! Today, apparently no wiser, his population base continues to wan and he is now providing self-sustenance to the Barred Owl. Other areas of natural resource provision (commercial fishing, shellfish, mining, etc) have also been subjected to the “Greening of America” and the monies provided to the state education system via those resources has plunged.
Instead of the Governor or legislature revisiting the annals of natural resource production for school funding, the majority chooses instead to dip deeper into the pockets of citizens. In the current economic climate, this can be devastating. Money management by the State must come before taxation. Governor Inslee is standing firm on his campaign pledge not to “raise taxes” according to the comments he made after being sworn into office. There will be no new tax increases, said Inslee, but there will be an extension of the increases levied two years ago and set to expire this year. He is willing to carry the increase through 2015. Consideration is also being given to additional charges at the pump, ... cautiously called a “revenue” source as the word “tax” has been stricken from commentary at the Dome. Currently, fuel taxes in Washington are 55.9 CPG for gas and 61.9 CPG for diesel. To compensate commuters who suffer from fuel tax increases, WSDOT creatively added other forms of transportation to the mix allowing many workers to leave the driving to someone else. I applaud this move however, I’ve yet to see bunks on a Light Rail system, transit bus or ferry. It appears the trucking industry, vitally essential to the transport of goods and services, is again expected to shoulder the increase and suck it up. I would expect the Governor to have direct knowledge of a fuel tax impact upon the trucking industry, as during his campaign he touted a history of “driving cement truck” to pay his college tuition. There’s more to come on this as the legislative session progresses, but in the meantime, I’ll be knocking on the doors of legislators statewide asking, “Whadda ya thinkin?!”
Stand your ground
Speakin’ of thinkin’ obviously Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-23rd District) had a real brain fart in December as she submitted an early Bill (HB 1012) into the hopper. Mrs. Appleton is concerned with gun laws (as are many citizens following the massacre at Newton, CT.) Included in her proposal though was this “jewel” ... Sec. 1. . . . (2) Homicide shall not be justifiable under this statute if the slayer knows or should know that he or she could avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating. Absurd? Beyond absurd! Anyone with half a wit would recognize the threat posed by an individual(s) breaking into your home with the intent of causing damage. To think anyone could escape a violent confrontation in seconds, suffering no injury or harm is ludicrous. The positive point is Mrs. Appleton has pulled the Bill off the table, but not before having her intentions and intellect seriously questioned. More on this to come.
(Sherrie Bond serves as Director of the Northwest Log Truckers’ Cooperative. She can be reached via email at BONDTRUCK@aol.com)