Opinion

Olympia ‘in action’ results in disappointment

JUST JACK

While I compose this offering, the Legislature continues to struggle with an uncertain outcome for the biennium budget. What is certain is the absolute lack of fiscal constraint being exercised by the majority. It is apparent they have little concern that the youngsters who will shoulder the burden of their fiscal irresponsibility are the very same youngsters we would entrust with our future economic viability. Those youngsters are being buried in debt for political agendas that have no proven basis or actual lasting value. If there is any immediate or real future benefit in the current legislative packages for those who will have to pay the bills, I can’t find it. I think the majority is simply coloring those youngsters as “not significant.” I also think the majority is very wrong.

The session started with a $9 billion deficit. By cutting funding to education, increasing tuitions at state universities and colleges, reducing funding to programs that support the most vulnerable disadvantaged and needful, who have no alternate means of support, a savings of about $4 billion has been realized. Included in the “savings” are small reductions in government staffing of either vacant positions or jobs that probably should not have been created to begin with. The other $5 billion? That comes from the other Washington in the form of “free” money. Actually, it represents an even larger bill for future generations to pay

If you were under the impression the state was experiencing financial difficulties, the Legislature was not. Even when faced with a $9 billion deficit there was no hesitation to add to the burden for taxpayers. Here are a few examples of their finest work.

The cost to you for filing a document with the county or city just took a 50 percent jump. The price is now $63 per document. Of that, $5 covers actual administrative costs. The other $58 goes to fund “affordable housing.” I fail to see the connection.

Six new categories of items have been added to an already long list of electrical appliances required to meet minimum energy efficiency standards. I am sure consumers will be appreciative of the reduced choice of items along with the increased cost.

We now have a “Sustainable Energy Trust Program” to fund energy efficiency improvements in the state. That we do not have the funds to meet the current (no pun intended) needs seems to matter not.

We now have a law that requires a construction worker to carry his license and photo ID on the job lest a “dishonest contractor” employ the wrong kind of people. We have to have a photo ID on the job but not at the voting booth; I guess that makes sense to some one.

You will probably be overjoyed to learn our highly effective state Economic Development Commission (anyone know what they have done lately?) is being reinvigorated and funded. Too bad so much of the current legislation is adverse to a positive economic development environment.

Speaking of environment, take solace in knowing that we have legislation that counters the evils of humankind as the plague it is on our environment and which combats the dreaded (even if poorly defined) monster of climate change. We have a “Clean Energy Initiative.” All state agencies are “climate leaders” by definition. Existing and future buildings will be the models of energy efficiency. Best of all, we have policies that will eliminate harmful (read coal) emissions. The price tag for all of these wonderful improvements and the source of our energy in the future appear lost in the charge to greatness. I am still looking for “climate change” in the Constitution.

There is some good news. Elementary schools will have mandatory recess. The

Olympic Marmot is our state endemic mammal. Landscape architects will be licensed. All our laws will be gender neutral. Fish and Wildlife can have a chaplain. UW is now the home of our state Center for Human Rights. Perhaps most important of all, we can now buy a bottle of Washington state-produced wine at the legislative gift center. I guess it was just getting too hard for some legislators to get off the campus for nourishment.

Jack Hamilton can be reached at gradiver@wavecable.com.

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