It’s difficult to tell whether the recent proposal to amend the Washington State Constitution to fix our savagely broken initiative system is serious or just election-year posturing. I’m all in favor of requiring initiatives to pay for themselves, but if we’re going to go to the trouble of amending the Constitution, let’s talk about the reform that will really fix the initiative system: banning paid signature gatherers.
The problem with our initiative system isn’t “unfunded mandates”–that’s a symptom. The problem is that it’s too easy for organized money to put absolutely terrible policies on the ballot. Banning paid signature gatherers would ensure that only measures with real grassroots support could get on the ballot, and once again make the initiative the people’s check-and-balance it was intended to be.
If you’re interested in more, David Broder, no raging leftist, writes about this at length in Democracy Derailed.
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Bravo Reuven. This hits the nail on the head. I’m proud to have you as my representative in Olympia.
I do this to attempt to genuinely educate the public about the true cost of asking for disproportionately higher public spending in education, health care, transportation, capital budgets and so much more all the while sending legislators to Olympia who prioritize anti-tax pledges to Washington, D.C.-based anti-government organizations. If, as some argue, we have a massive state budget deficit because spending from Olympia is out of control, we have that deficit in large because we can no longer sustain an unbalanced status quo by which only 6 primarily urban counties are ‘net contributor’ of taxes while 33 primarily rural are ‘net recipient’ counties. Our rural communities are part of the soul of our state’s glorious history and residents deserve the same quality education and health care that urban communities receive. I am not troubled by the massively unbalanced subsidy of tax dollars from state government to rural areas, I am troubled by the disingenuous political arguments of those who pretend those subsidies don’t exist and prioritize anti-tax pledges above all else.
From those to whom much is given, much is expected. As I finish up the first quarter of grad school, I’m finding myself itching to do something big and impactful. If only I knew what that was. The larval period is hard.