Originally published October 7, 2011 at 2:58 PM | Page modified October 7, 2011 at 4:26 PM

Vote No on I-1163, a grab for public money

The Seattle Times editorial board opposes Initiative 1163, which would order the state to pay for training and certification of long-term care workers.

quotes Great editorial. I hope this time around Washington Voters reject this self serving... Read more
quotes Used to be the unions covered worker training with apprenticeship programs.. and that... Read more
quotes Any initiative that requires new spending but doesn't provide a means for funding it... Read more

The Seattle Times opposes Initiative 1163. It is a grab for public money at a time when there is no money.

I-1163 presents itself as a vote to instruct and test home-care workers. Voters were offered an almost identical measure three years ago. They passed it, voting with their hearts, looking at the ballot title only.

There is more to it. The measure began as a bill in the Legislature. The House and the Senate, both controlled by Democrats, passed versions of the bill. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents workers in state programs, wanted a bill with stronger mandates. The union blocked a final vote, which would have been yes, wrote its own bill and ran it as an initiative to the people.

Not one voter in a thousand really understood it.

The new law called for the state to pay for the training of workers in state programs. This was estimated to cost $30 million a biennium. Later the figure was set at $50 million. However, the state was in a crisis. It had no money, and the Legislature left the task unfunded.

This year the union was back with a proposal that could cost $80 million in the first biennium. The union filed several versions of the initiative with tax increases, but it found that if the measure included a tax, voters would talk about the tax.

It chose to run I-1163, the one with no tax.

Essentially I-1163 says to the state: "Here is a thing we want. You pay for it. If you're short of money, cut something else — and don't ask us what."

Legislators face this sort of demand all the time. They have to match demands with revenues, deciding which claims are strongest. All this is short-circuited with an initiative that says: "Want this?"

The SEIU wants it. The union wrote it and has raised $1.36 million to pay people to collect signatures for it and to run a campaign to pass it. The SEIU is outspending its opponents by 29 to 1.

Still The Times opposes it.


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