Editorial boards criticize Democrats’ policies, processes

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Tri-City Herald: Those hoping to reopen WA restaurants were mistreated at failed public hearing | Jan. 22, 2021

“So it is extremely distressing that when over 400 people signed up to testify Wednesday on a proposal to reopen restaurants and other businesses during the COVID pandemic, only a fraction of them were allowed to speak. And many of those who did talk ended up abruptly muted mid-sentence and cut off as soon as they hit the one-minute mark. That wasn’t right.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Timing is wrong for enormous hike in state gas tax | Jan. 21, 2021

“Making gasoline more than 30 cents a gallon more expensive could undercut efforts to get the state’s economy headed in a positive direction. It will also add further pain to those who have had their work hours reduced or have been laid off in the midst of the pandemic … This is not a good time to add such a huge tax burden.”

The Seattle Times: State must come clean about delayed COVID-19 vaccine rollout | January 14, 2021

“There is no good reason for Washington to rank 36th among U.S. states in initial COVID-19 vaccine shots administered per capita. There is an appalling one: Washington ranks 26th in the percentage of received vaccines that have been delivered to patients … Washington deserves a full accounting for why the statewide rollout is taking so much painful time.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Less spending, not more taxes, is recipe for state budget | January 12, 2021

“As the state Legislature convened in Olympia (and on Zoom) Monday — with the critical task of approving a two-year state budget topping the agenda — too many lawmakers, as well as the governor, are pondering more taxes. That’s the wrong mindset.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature’s remote session must be fully transparent | January 10, 2021

“And the Legislature must not engage in the odious practice of introducing “title-only” bills the public cannot scrutinize until significant proposals are dropped late in the legislative process.”

Yakima Herald-Republic: Plenty to hope for as Legislature convenes | January 10, 2021

“Inslee has yet to run afoul of state law, however, as courts routinely turn away challenges to his authority. Because of this, several local lawmakers have expressed support for rewriting state law. And while our expectations are limited — Inslee’s party controls both chambers of the Legislature, while every Valley lawmaker is Republican — we agree that this is a conversation worth having. Inslee’s decisions on closures and timetables, his one-size-fits-all system of metrics from county to county, and his refusal to call a special session are causes for deep concern.” 

The Seattle Times: Any new state taxes or fees must meet a high bar | January 8, 2021

“Nevertheless, many Democratic leaders, who control the governor’s mansion and both legislative houses, are enthusiastic about raising even more money. Lawmakers should measure any such proposals of any new taxes or fees against a high bar. In this fragile recovery, increasing the burden on households and employers, many of which still are struggling, could be detrimental. Lawmakers should be especially skeptical of Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal …  Pain endures for many households, and recovery is uncertain for most employers. Yet the overall strength of Washington’s economy is providing ample tax dollars to balance the state budget and more. This precarious situation should make legislators wary of any new tax or fee proposal.”

The Columbian: Shake up Employment Security Department | January 3, 2021

“The bottom line now is what are Washington’s elected officials going to do about the Employment Security Department? Gov. Jay Inslee has made clear he’s loath to dismiss LeVine, whom he appointed to the job. But someone must be held responsible for the agency’s continuing problems … The state Employment Security Department is due for a shake-up. The top might be a good place to start.”

The Seattle Times: Restore faith in Employment Security | December 27, 2020

“The theft and delays have led some to call for LeVine’s replacement. But Gov. Jay Inslee seems bent on forgiving and forgetting the agency’s fumbles, saying in a recent meeting with editorial board members that he feels the beleaguered department is on an “arc of improvement.” In a follow-up, a spokeswoman stressed that the governor will “continue to demand accountability and improved performance from ESD, as he does for all state agencies. The public needs more than pat assurances. It needs results.”

The Seattle Times: Taxing employers will prolong Seattle’s economic pain | December 22, 2020

“Seattle desperately needs more common sense and reasonable voices to be heard. Now is the time for City Hall to support employers so the city can recover and again be a great place to start careers and companies. Pay heed, Legislature.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Inslee’s capital gains tax plan should be quickly rejected | December 21, 2020

“We believe this proposal, like previous efforts to impose an income tax in Washington state, should be quickly rejected by the Legislature.”

The Seattle Times: Prisons must rectify pandemic mistakes | December 3, 2020

“Washington’s Department of Corrections’ history of poor management, medical and otherwise, hobbled its pandemic response from the outset. Missteps and inaction, including not enforcing that guards wear masks, endangered prisoners with nowhere to go to protect themselves.”

The Columbian: Special session of state Legislature crucial | November 24, 2020

“With a spike in coronavirus infections, such orders may be necessary. But they fail to address the economic pressure that will be placed on business owners and employees. State Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver, said: ‘He can’t possibly understand what the effect is on these small businesses. He’s continuing to get paid. These businesses are shut down and scratching to survive.’ That is why the Legislature must be called into session. Emergency relief is required, and input from lawmakers is needed.”

Inslee should expand his bubble, call special session of Washington Legislature | The News Tribune | November 18, 2020

“Inslee, for his part, has made a few overtures about possibly, maybe, but probably not calling a special session. Washington Republicans asked for one after the newly reelected governor announced he’s again shutting down major parts of the economy, this time until at least mid-December, to stem the fast-rising viral tide. In our view, Inslee should acquiesce to the request and expand his bubble of decision-making input. He should call lawmakers to Olympia to tackle a narrowly defined agenda on a short timeline.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Governor’s new restrictions could have benefited from Republican input | November 18, 2020

“Democrats in Washington state hold all the power, but if they want all of Washington to pull together they would be wise to make a stronger effort to include Republicans in discussing solutions.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature must fix inflated car-tab fees definitively | October 20, 2020

“The Legislature finally should answer the voters’ widespread discontent with Sound Transit’s car valuation schedule, which calculates registration fees on a basis far higher than a car’s market value.”

Tri-City Herald: A gas tax won’t fix climate change. State lawmakers must oppose this low-carbon plan. (February 28, 2020)

“If ESSHB 1110 — the low-carbon fuel standard bill — gets through this year’s legislative session, then the price at the pump will shoot up and disposable income will go down. For those on a fixed income, this is a horrible scenario.”

“And gas prices won’t be the only concern. The cost of food and other goods shipped by truck will rise because businesses will have to pass on the extra shipping expenses to their customers.”

“We are not deniers of climate change, but we believe ESSHB 1110 is regressive, and delivers too little environmental bang for the buck.”

The Seattle Times: The Legislature clings to its old tricks (February 17, 2020)

“Meanwhile, Republicans, now in the minority, have found religion on the issue. They introduced three bills (HB 2190, SB 2042 and SJR 8214) to reform or prohibit title-only bills. Those bills had some bipartisan support, but none received a committee hearing, dooming them for the session.”

“Title-only bills remain unseemly and duplicitous — yes, perhaps they bend the rules just short of the constitutional breaking point. That’s why a legislative fix is preferable, but Democrats killed that idea.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Lawmakers continue legislative trick to skirt constitution (February 12, 2020)

“And so the shenanigans in the state Legislature will continue.”

“That became clear last week when the effort to end the practice of ‘title-only’ bills — offering only a vague description of the proposed legislation such as ‘fiscal matters’ but containing no actual text of the proposed law — died without a committee hearing.”

“That means lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Legislature can continue circumventing the state constitution in pushing through legislation without the glare of public scrutiny in the final days of the legislative session.”

The Seattle Times: Legislators, keep prioritizing congestion relief (February 7, 2020)

“Washington lawmakers must scrutinize a bevy of Seattle-spawned land-use, head-tax and transportation proposals. They are heavy on emotional arguments and platitudes and light on details about who really benefits.”

“One of the most insidious proposals would radically alter the way state transportation projects are funded, potentially undermining jobs and the economy. Legislators should reject this scheme, in House Bill 2688 and Senate Bill 6398.”

“Unbelievably, the bills seek to remove “congestion” and “freight mobility” from the list of criteria used to allocate transportation funding.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Legislature shouldn’t curb voters’ initiative power (January 19, 2020)

“Still, it’s very troubling that 11 state representatives have signed on to legislation (House Bill 2529) that aims to restrict the people’s right to put an initiative or referendum on the ballot.”

“The legislation, which was introduced last week as lawmakers began their 60-day session, limits what can be considered during odd-year elections. Specifically, it prohibits initiatives and amendments to the state constitution in years ending with odd numbers such as 2019.”

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Pragmatism needed in setting carbon-emissions rules (January 17, 2020)

“Imposing unreasonable fees in the state would hurt consumers and put businesses in the state at a competitive disadvantage with those in neighboring states. It could also drive businesses from Washington.”

Tri-City Herald: Gov. Inslee’s Snake River dam study wasted money telling us what we already know (December 22, 2019)

“Considering the state has no authority over whether the dams are breached — only Congress has that — spending money on a state study was a waste.”

“But a majority of state legislators insisted we need to have a state dialogue on the issue, so the plan went forward.”

The Columbian: Legislature should end use of ‘title-only’ bills | June 21, 2019

“When the Legislature reconvenes in January, one of those priorities should be the elimination of ‘title-only’ bills. Such legislation, in which a blank bill is filed with the text to be filled in later, is an affront to the notion of transparency and an offensive attempt to avoid the state constitution.”

Columbia Basin Herald: Title-only bills need to go | June 19, 2019

“The state legislature is no place for games. The democratic process allows citizens to be active participants in the legislative process and we believe it is time for lawmakers to adhere to democratic principles and ban title-only bills outright.”

Walla Wall Union-Bulletin: Effort to approve capital-gains tax should be ended | June 5, 2019

“A capital-gains tax is an income tax, which is simply not allowed under the state constitution.”

“Our biggest concern is that a narrow capital-gains tax passed next year could morph into a full-blown income tax in the future that many, if not most, Washingtonians would have to pay. If this were to succeed it would be circumventing the state constitution.”

Tri-City Herald: On taxes and transparency, the 2019 Legislature gets a D- | May 19, 2019

“All in all, we think a course correction is in order. Banning title-only bills would be a great start, and that’s a realistic change we would like to see introduced next session.”

“More transparency could improve the legislative process, and perhaps clean up some of the mess created this session. Judging by what happened this year, improvement is desperately needed.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Washington’s Legislature must be more transparent | May 13, 2019

“Take, for example, the way the Democratic-majority in the Legislature used a parliamentary trick to get around the state constitution at the end of the just completed legislative session.”

“It’s time for the Legislature to put an end to this title-only scam.”

The Spokesman-Review: Title-only bills are an insult to democracy | May 12, 2019

“Democrats in the state Capitol weren’t about to let a little thing like the Washington Constitution stop them from raising taxes. As the legislative session wound down last weekend, they used a constitutional loophole to cut the public out of debate and pass the surprise tax increases. Closing that loophole should be the first order of business when lawmakers return to Olympia next year.”

“Even some Democrats opposed the increases and the underhanded way their colleagues passed them.”

“If Democrats had run the bill through the banking committee, they might have slowed down because there’s a good chance it violates the U.S. Constitution by treating in-state and out-of-state banks differently.”

The Columbian: State budget process in need of transparency | May 9, 2019

“In the end, lawmakers passed a dizzying array of tax increases in putting together the largest budget in state history. Despite a surge in state revenue created by a strong economy, the Legislature was unable to live within its means. The two-year budget, which goes into effect later this year, represents an 18 percent increase in spending over the current biennium.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Rescinding Oregon sales tax exemption hurts locally | May 7, 2019

“The bottom line is that repealing this tax exemption at the point of purchase might hurt the state’s economy worse than anticipated.”

The Everett Herald: A troubling short cut for state tax increase on banks | May 7, 2019

“The problem lies not so much with the tax increase itself, although it doesn’t require even Sutton-like logic skills to wonder how difficult it will be for the nation’s largest banks to pass on the costs to consumers because, well, ‘that’s where the money is.’ No, the larger issue is with the process that was used to propose and pass tax increase legislation in the session’s final three days.”

The Seattle Times: Washington lawmakers dodge the constitution with title-only bills | May 6, 2019

“In the final hours before the end of the 2019 legislative session, Democrats in Olympia rammed through a tax increase on big banks. They used a parliamentary gimmick called a “title-only bill” to bypass the state constitution and cut the public out of the process.”

The Seattle Times: Legislature 2019: Some gains at high cost | May 3, 2019

“Though state revenue surged last year, the Legislature still couldn’t live within its means and passed a dizzying array of tax increases. As has become lawmakers’ secretive norm, some were passed in the wee hours with last-minute bills, precluding public engagement and analysis of how much they’ll cost residents.”

Yakima Herald: The good, bad and perplexing of the legislative session | May 3, 2019

“Thumbs-down. New taxes: Why were new taxes needed, given state revenue projections? Certainly, many measures needed funding — special ed, mental health — but not beyond existing state revenue. School levy lift: We believe the Legislature’s action to ease a local school levy cap after one year, to placate districts in more affluent areas, will result in inequality in school funding — and perhaps another lawsuit that the McCleary ruling was supposed to settle. Bad move.”

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Boosting local school levy collections is wrong approach | April 30, 2019

“The Democrat-controlled House and Senate opted to raise the levy lid to essentially fix their own blunders. The structure of the K-12 funding plan approved last year allowed some school districts (Walla Walla was not one of them)   to raise teacher salaries to a level so high that they could not be sustained beyond this year.”

The News Tribune: New tax hard to swallow; Washington Democrats pull fast one in Legislature’s last weekend | April 30, 2019

“Not out of sympathy for big banks, but out of recognition that a slapdash tax plan makes for bad public policy, accountability and transparency. To rush it through the Legislature in 48 hours is indefensible — and indigestible.”

The Columbian: Legislature hits deadline, gets mixed report card | April 30, 2019

Yakima Herald: Legislature’s late ‘big reveal’ budget hinders transparency | April 29, 2019

The Columbian: Tighter DUI law will keep roads safer | April 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: No to Seattle congestion pricing | April 17, 2019

The Columbian: Lifting levy lid violates spirit of McCleary deal | April 11, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Don’t put school-funding burden back on local taxpayers | March 31, 2019 

The Spokesman-Review: Washington needs doctors; funding delays are senseless | March 15, 2019

The Columbian: Plea for no tax increases fiscally responsible | March 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: Lawmakers eye local taxpayers, again, for schools | March 22, 2019

Tri-City Herald: If you don’t want gas prices to go up, let Olympia know this bill isn’t the answer | March 23, 2019

Tri-City Herald: Republican or Democrat? Washington’s voters shouldn’t have to tell | March 20, 2019

The Seattle Times: Climate proposals need better cost analysis | March 15, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: State DOC must do better tracking inmates’ sentences | March 5, 2019

Yakima Herald: Time to stall climate bills that would raise gas prices | March 1, 2019

The Seattle Times: Washington’s struggles to track prison sentences are unacceptable | February 27, 2019

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin: Scuttle the effort to raise state gas tax | February 25, 2019

Tri-City Herald: Inslee’s proposed Snake River dam task force will be a waste of money | February 24, 2019

The Seattle Times: Stop the local tax grab and increase state dollars for education | February 22, 2019

The Spokesman-Review: A statewide plastic bag ban doesn’t make sense | February 10, 2019

Yakima Herald: Don’t lift the levy cap on school funding | January 25, 2019

The Columbian: Keep a lid on it | January 10, 2019

Yakima Herald: Gov. Inslee’s capital gains tax won’t fly in this state | December 22, 2018

“Here’s the thing: Many learned people in the state, as well as such federal arbiters of fiscal matters as the Internal Revenue Service, have stated that a capital gains tax, no matter how it’s configured, counts as an income tax. As such, that would make the governor’s proposal to generate a billion dollars a year with this method to help fund a $54.5 billion state operating budget unconstitutional.”