Editorial: Ballot issues offer change

With a Legislature afraid to do much that is meaningful for fear that it will bite them next election cycle, citizens have again taken it upon themselves to propose significant changes in how our state operates. Some of the ideas seem good, and some not so good.

Initiative 872: This would give voters some semblance of our beloved “open primary” election system that was thrown out by the courts at the prompting of party hacks. Primary voters could select candidates from among all political parties. The catch is, only the “top two,” regardless of party, would advance to the general election. Minor parties would seldom if ever make it to the November ballot and, rarely, two candidates from the same party would go up against one another in the general election. The “top two” system has its drawbacks, but also its benefits: The primary ballot would be open, crossover voting wouldn’t happen as all candidates would be fighting for a top two finish, and centrist candidates would tend to win as they appeal to the most voters. This should translate into less partisanship and hostility in Olympia, which is why I-872 deserves a resounding “yes” vote on Nov. 2.

Initiative 884: We already have one of the highest sales taxes in the nation, but should we raise it another penny with that money earmarked for education? Tempting, but no. Sales tax revenues traditionally go to other vital state and local services, not education. And as written, there would be little oversight by elected officials of how all this new education money would be spent. Besides, our fragile economic recovery could be poleaxed by this proposal. Vote no on I-844.

Initiative 892: This would allow a version of slot machines in taverns, bowling alleys and other off-reservation establishments. Taxes derived from these machines would be used to marginally reduce property taxes. Bottom line: We already have too much gambling with the state’s lottery, Indian casinos, and relaxed rules on local cardrooms. The damage this does to many families is extensive, if unreported. I-982 would make it even worse, therefore it deserves a no vote.

I-297: Concerning the handling of radioactive waste at Hanford. In short: Too complex for voters, and pointless as it’s a federal issue. Might as well vote no.

Ref. 55: This allows a limited number of charter schools to be established in this state. Not a disaster, but this old idea’s time has come and gone. Public schools in Washington are on a positive course with WASL testing and other improvements adopted in recent years, so there’s no sense watering down the progress by sending scarce education money to charter schools. Vote no on Ref. 55.

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