WEA POLITICS TRUMP CHARITY 7
WHERE’S THE ACCOUNTABILITY? 8
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN “SHALL” MEANSFREEDOM SHALLFOUNDATION 11
LIVING LIBERTY APRIL 2005
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
On March 21, Governor Gregoire released her state budget proposal of $25.8 billion for 2005-07. The governor described her budget as “unsustainable.” Most media and lawmakers described it as visionary and responsible. The Gregoire budget proposes to •
increase government spending by three times the rate of inflation,
increase taxes by $203 million, and
destroy the intent of I-601, our state’s voter-approved spending ceiling.
“UNSUSTAINABLE” By Jason Mercier and Lynn Harsh
“We must change the culture of state government.” - Gov. Christine Gregoire
he governor’s reserve fund would equal less than one percent of her total spending, hardly comforting as we live with dry forests and farmland, homeland security issues and a smoking volcano in our backyard. Gregoire’s budget provides new money for nearly every segment of her political base, except for the dead people who voted for her. She stiffs those voters and their families by reinstating the death tax. Raises are planned for almost all unionized state and K-12 employees. Money for automatic cost of living increases for most education employees, and funds for class size reduction—both issues the voters said “no” to on I-884—have found their way into Gregoire’s budget. The governor increases funding for K-12 schools by 6.4 percent, higher education by 11.8 percent, the Department of Social and Health Services by 17.9 percent and the Department of Corrections by 8 percent. By Gregoire’s own calculation, her budget sets up serious financial problems for 2007-09. But she says we have no choice due to our state’s urgent needs. For example, her visionary and responsible budget includes • increases of 82 percent for the Horse Racing Commission, • increases of 53 percent for the Office of Minority and Women’s Business, • increases of 50 percent for the Commission on AsianAmerican Affairs, • increases of 46 percent for the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, and • increases of 48 percent for the Commission on African-American Affairs.
A need that apparently is not so serious is accountability: The State Auditor’s Office got a 4.2 percent decrease in funding, and no money for performance audits. Busting I-601 and funny fund shifts Although forecasted revenue for the 2005-07 budget is projected to be $1.7 billion higher than the current biennium, Gregoire’s 2005-07 budget proposal increases spending by $2.6 billion. To reach her $25.8 billion record level of spending, Gregoire exploits a loophole in the I-601 voter-approved spending limit. Initiative 601 allows legislators to spend more money from one biennium to the next as long as it is proportional to inflation and population growth. Increases in expenditures are calculated off the base from the previous biennium. So, if lawmakers want to increase spending in the next two years more than would be allowable under the I-601 law, they must find a way to increase the base of the current biennium. Since we only have three months left in the current biennium, Governor Gregoire decided to declare an emergency. She drafted a supplemental
Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 Address service requested
“emergency” budget for the last three months of this biennium, in order to kick up the base for her proposed increases in 2005-07. The governor claims that the $219 million she is requesting in the emergency budget can’t wait until the new biennium, which begins on July 1, 2005. Funny thing about her supplemental budget: The governor asked for $45 million in the emergency/ supplemental budget to go to the Health Services Account. But she plans to transfer $86 million from that same account to the general fund for her 2005-07 budget. This budget slight-of-hand enables her to artificially increase the I-601 spending limit. That’s because the law allows the spending limit to be increased if funds are moved from dedicated accounts to the general fund. Illustrating just how “unsustainable” Gregoire’s budget is: • She leaves a budget reserve of $203 million (less than one-percent), • transfers $244 million from dedicated accounts to the Continued on page 7
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE
OLYMPIA, WA PERMIT #462
Waste Watchers DSHS Medicaid verification by Sarah Carrico
n 2002, a study conducted by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) found that seven percent of reviewed Medicaid recipients were ineligible to receive benefits, and eligibility could not be verified for more than 33 percent of recipients. This is the same agency that recently failed a $6.1 billion Medicaid audit, which revealed that it had (among other things): • paid $22 million to individuals who did not provide valid Social Security numbers (SSN) or offered no SSN at all; • paid more than $1 million to individuals claiming a deceased relative’s SSN; • provided $1.3 million in unallowable medical services to illegal aliens; • failed to account for more than 1.4 million in pills worth more than $529,000; and
• failed to cooperate with the audit, leading the state auditor to disclaim the entire $6.1 billion Medicaid program. In 2003, the legislature approved a package of reforms to prevent Medicaid fraud. One of these reforms was to require verification of recipient eligibility every six months instead of every twelve. But Governor Christine Gregoire plans to repeal this reform, stating that recipients “drop off not because they’re ineligible, but because they can’t jump the hurdles.” (Seattle Times – 1/20/05) Interestingly enough, a September 2004 DSHS study which actually reviewed why recipients drop off stated exactly the opposite. The top two reasons cited for dropping off Medicaid were “other health insurance” (39 percent) and “too high an income” (35 percent). Only two percent of those surveyed cited
Governor Christine Gregoire plans to repeal this reform, stating that recipients “drop off not because they’re ineligible, but because they can’t jump the hurdles.” (Seattle Times – 1/20/05)
the ‘hassle factor’ as their reason for dropping off Medicaid. According to the Office of Financial Management (OFM), Governor Gregoire’s repeal of more frequent eligibility verification will cost state taxpayers $33 million in the next biennium. Saving $33 million on 98 percent of Medicaid recipients by keeping the legislature’s reform package makes sense. Spending $33 million on two percent of Medicaid drop-offs and repealing the package doesn’t. If this is any indication of Governor Gregoire’s spending priorities, Washington taxpayers might want to tighten their belts.
Contact Governor Gregoire’s office at (360) 902-4111 and let her know Washington’s taxpayers expect accountability in the state’s administration of the Medicaid program.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .......................................................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1 GREGOIRE’S BUDGET: “UNSUSTAINABLE”
3 LETTER FROM LYNN A DANGEROUS TIME OF YEAR
4 UNION OFFICIALS’ HYPOCRISY EVIDENT IN ATTACK ON POLITICAL OPPONENT EFF WILLIAMS/SIEGEL TOWN HALL 5 GOVERNMENT WANTS TO “HELP YOU” WITH HEALTH CARE
6 DON’T WHITEWASH ELECTION PROBLEMS. FIX THEM. PUBLIC RECORDS MUST REMAIN PUBLIC 7 WEA POLITICS TRUMP CHARITY 8 WHERE’S THE ACCOUNTABILITY?
EFF drew national attention to the WEA's decision to make its Children's Fund Charity political.
9 HIGHER TAXES FOR HIGHER TEACHER SALARIES? EUCATION BILLS: DEAD OR ALIVE? 1 PART HONESTY; 2 PARTS ARROGANCE 10 “SHALL” MEANS SHALL, NOT “MAY” 12 THE UNION’S MILLION-DOLLAR BABIES IN HIS OWN WORDS FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT ON SOCIAL SECURITY
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
LetterLETTER from Lynn FROM LY NN by Lynn Harsh
A Dangerous time of year
Warning: Not to be read by a Bulldog or anyone with high blood pressure or Planters Warts
arch is a character-building month for me. I’m always glad when it’s over (the month, that is). The legislature and other elected officials top the list of reasons I need to count way past ten. Keep this context in mind as you read: The average Washingtonian taxpayer already works into July to pay for federal, state and local taxes and regulatory fees. “No way!” you say. Yes, way! The reason you may be skeptical is because you are only thinking in terms of the Income Tax return you recently filed (or will file at 11:59 p.m. on April 15). But remember our sales tax. And consider “hidden fees”: the extra tens of thousands of dollars added to the cost of your house because of the taxes and regulatory fees the builder has to pay; the extra money it costs you to buy, drive and maintain a vehicle; the fees tacked on to your phone and utility bills; the additional amount you dish out every time you go to a park, ride a cab, or purchase tickets to a sporting or theater event. Knowing you and I will work more than half the year just to pay the costs of government, how does it strike you that the majority of state officials are actively seeking to take even more money from us? Thanks to our improving economy, state revenue is expected to increase more than seven percent over the next two years. That’s with no further tax increases. Many lawmakers say that’s not enough. In fact, leaders of the majority party are genuinely distressed that the rate of government spending is not on par with the rate of personal income growth. Think about the perversity of this philosophy. First, they are ignoring the fact that it is punitive and counterproductive to tax wage earners and job creators for their success. Second, these lawmakers believe we owe government the same percentage increase from our aggregate wage growth as we have earned: if we have it to spend, they should have it to spend, too. Incredible! So they are proposing dozens of new fees and taxes, including the governor’s plan to reinstate the death tax. Most of the increases are “smaller” in nature, but added together will increase the time we must work to pay for the cost of government. For example, as I write this letter, a majority of House of Representatives members approved increasing the fees we pay to our county auditor when we officially record a document. It’s only an additional $10, they say. That’s so $6 can go to local government and $4 can be
used for planning and programs to help the homeless. But this tax (and many others like it) has an attitude problem, beginning with, “It’s only $10.00.” You know the saying: $10 here and $10 there, and pretty soon...pretty soon we’re working more than half the year to pay for the cost of government! Besides, how does paying more money to record documents relate to paying for homeless programs? If lawmakers want to spend more of our money to combat homelessness, they should just say so and put a line-item increase in the budget to accommodate it. That way we taxpayers can decide if we think it is a good idea, and if we do, we can see the direct correlation between the money spent and the efficacy of the program. Another bill that left the House chambers mandates that state employees who leave their jobs to participate in the Peace Corps have a guaranteed job if they want to return to state government employment. But the same law won’t apply if a state employee wants to work with World Vision instead of the Peace Corps, or if they want to join their church in building orphanages in AIDS-ravaged Africa for a year. Once again, taxpayer dollars will be taken from many people to be redistributed to some people to fund endeavors that fit state government’s idea of “acceptable” charity work. This is not government’s business. The list of proposed taxes and fees is long and frustrating. It really comes down to the fact that the majority of lawmakers are not willing to live within our means. They refuse to prioritize government spending, and they believe government is better suited to knowing how to spend half of our annual wages than we are. For the minority of lawmakers who believe and vote otherwise, bless them, and may they multiply. Why health care costs so much One of my docs works out of a small specialty clinic—about 2,000 square feet total. While waiting to see him on my first visit, I notice a cheesy-looking, handwritten evacuation map fixed to the wall. I thought it was rather odd, since the clinic has only one circular hall with seven rooms around its perimeter, with clearly visible front and back doors. How could you get lost in the place and not know how to get out, I wondered? If it filled up with smoke, the lighted exit signs would be a lot more readable than the homemade map. I asked my doctor about it when he came in. He grimaced. Somebody from the state had noticed the lack of a posted
evacuation route and said one had to be put up immediately. So the receptionist drew one. He agreed that it would be far more efficient for him to stand in the hallway and yell, “Quick, everyone get out!” Finding my sympathetic ear, he told me about another half-a-dozen compliance and regulatory issues that fall into the “insensible and expensive” category. Of course, we patients ultimately bear the cost either in dollars or reduced availability of care, or both. But regulators don’t think very much about that when they are busy passing laws and rules “for our own good.” Which brings me to the biggest character-building experience of the month. My insurance company has to raise my rates substantially, and the
“Do legislators have any idea how many of the uninsured in this state are without coverage as a direct result of their misguided paternalism?” company may leave the state altogether. The rate increase is because I am now forced to pay for emergency services, mammograms, maternity care stays, newborn coverage, reconstructive breast surgery and probably mental health services. If I wanted to have those services covered, I would have looked for an accommodating policy. Once again, the legislature decided, on my behalf, what I needed. They mandated health insurance companies cover a bunch of services some of us may not need or want in order for the companies to do business in our state. The result is predictable: Most of the companies left Washington, sharply reducing the quality and increasing the cost of what coverage was left. So thanks a lot!
Was it the legislature’s intention to drive yet another firm out of our state, further decreasing the number of companies who can give me a quality, cost-effective product? Just how much more money per month do they think we consumers out here can pay for our health insurance before we can’t afford it at all? Do legislators have any idea how many of the uninsured in this state are without coverage as a direct result of their misguided paternalism? I could use a lot less of their compassion, thank you very much! And I plan to let them know in both ears for as long as it takes. About those Planters Warts... One legislator who is particularly concerned about the negative effects of the mandates on health care insurance said somewhat cynically that about the only thing the legislature has decided not to mandate is the removal of Planters Warts. One of her colleagues said it might be possible to get them removed if the patient claimed that the presence of the warts, like the one this legislator demonstrated she had, was causing mental health damage. It was a straight line too good to pass up, but I did. And then there’s basketball March Madness is also a terrible strain on my character. I lose judgment when filling out my college basketball championship brackets, because feisty underdogs are so appealing. This year I tried to be more sensible. I’m going to root for the U of W as my underdog to make it to the Final Four. Their moniker and logo are certainly better than most. A Husky is far superior to the Demon Deacons, the Orange (used to be the non-p.c. Orangemen), the Terps, Tar Heels, and Illini (Is this more than one Illinoisian?). I like the Orange, but I’m going with the Blue Devils, the Huskies, the Tar Heels, and the Illini. And since I’ve committed this to print , and since it will all be over by the time you get this newsletter, the universe of people who can potentially ridicule my selection has now expanded beyond a handful of teenage boys. Sigh....
Union officials’ hypocrisy evident in attack on political opponent by Michael Reitz
hen is it appropriate for elected officials to use their power to attack the funding of a political opponent? The Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) and organized labor are two of the biggest players in our state’s elections. And no doubt about it: they’re often at odds with each other. Organized labor is working hard to shut down BIAW this legislative session. As Senator Karen Keiser, who also serves as communications director for the Washington State Labor Council (AFLCIO), said before the start of the session: “Our plan is to cut their funding out from under them.” BIAW earns a portion of its income by managing the state’s largest worker compensation pool. Washington’s Retrospective Ratings (“retro”) program allows businesses and trade associations to pool their workers’ compensation programs. If a company’s premiums exceed claims, the company receives a rebate and the pool manager is permitted to charge a percentage of the rebate as compensation. Participants in BIAW’s worker compensation program join voluntarily. If an employer is not satisfied with the program’s performance or services, almost sixty other programs are available in the state. No business is limited to a single provider in its field. Individual members also participate in the association voluntarily. You don’t
have to be a member of the BIAW to build houses in Washington state, and if a builder is not happy with the way the association spends the money, he or she can freely leave. Organized labor, on the other hand, gets its money through mandatory membership and forced fees. Once a union is designated as the exclusive representative and inserts a “union security” clause into the contract, every employee in the bargaining unit is forced to pay dues, regardless of membership. Workers must either join the union or pay equivalent non-member fees if they want to keep their jobs. Union officials and Democrat legislators have criticized BIAW for using some of the profits of its retro program for political purposes, and a barrage of legislation has been introduced to “cut their funding.” Several lawmakers sponsoring these bills, including Senator Keiser, also serve as officers for labor organizations. First there was House Bill 1070, which was designed to cap the administrative fees a retro program manager can charge. Next, Democrats introduced companion bills SB 5842 and HB 1875, which would specify how workers’ compensation refunds can be spent—with politics conspicuously not on the list of “approved” expenditures. Big Labor’s effort to silence its main political opponent reveals a disdain for individual freedom. Unions have their own aggressive political agendas.
Unfortunately, their political capital is supplied by workers who are forced to pay dues as condition of employment. An examination of union spending in 2004 reveals the extent of labor’s reach into state politics. According to Public Disclosure Commission reports, the Washington Education Association and its political committee gave $944,520 in cash and in-kind contributions to political candidates and committees. The Washington State Labor Council gave $237,830. The Service Employees International Union political committee spent a whopping $1,401,832, while the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers gave $255,295 in contributions. The Teamsters gave $327,171 and United Food and Commercial Workers contributed $308,182. Labor unions routinely rank high on the Public Disclosure Commission’s biennial “50 Most Active Political Action Committees” report. These figures tell only a part of the story, as unions also use the money they take from workers to conduct “political education” campaigns to instruct their members how to vote. Being forced to contribute to a political candidate you do not support is objectionable enough; having your union boss spend your money to tell you how to vote only adds insult to injury. Rarely does labor’s political activity accurately reflect the diverse views within union membership. For example, while teachers in our state hold a variety
of political perspectives, 98 percent of the Washington Education Association’s campaign contributions in 2004 went to Democrat candidates. WEA officials may argue that political contributions are handled through its political committee, but less than $200,000 came from voluntary teacher donors. Is this representation or exploitation? Union members are permitted to seek a refund from their union for the percentage of their dues spent for political activities, but in doing so must relinquish their right to participate in workplace decisions such as contracts, benefits and work schedule. You only have a voice in your union if you support the politics of its officials. If employees desire union representation, they should be given an individual choice—just like members of BIAW’s retro program. And if the legislature wants to correct an injustice, it should eliminate mandatory union dues and impose a voluntary association requirement on labor unions. Several bills were introduced this session to require unions to seek permission before spending membership dues on politics, but the legislature failed to safeguard the First Amendment rights of state employees. So when is it appropriate for officials to use their position to cut their political opponent’s funding? The abuse of power is never appropriate.
identity and citizenship before being permanently placed back on the “active” rolls. Voters on the “inactive” list who had yet to prove those two requirements would still be allowed to vote provisionally, but their ballots and voting status would be checked by election officials before the vote was tabulated. This de-facto reregistration measure would ensure that all the poll books contain the full legal name of every voter, which is currently not required. Having the correct legal name on file is absolutely essential because the new database being instituted to purge the poll books of deceased voters, illegal aliens, and convicted felons will only have residents’ legal names, not the names they register to vote under. (Registrants can register to vote in whatever name they choose.) Thus, many illegal voters will be able to continue to disenfranchise legal voters because the new database will not be able to weed them out! The Everett town hall meeting was designed to both give concerned voters an update and to continue to elicit testimony from local election volunteers and paid staffers about controversial procedures. Another theme that continues to be repeated over and over
again is frustration with the pace at which military ballots are sent out in counties to our troops overseas. The Department of Defense and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission are quite clear: county auditors need to mail out ballots a minimum of 45 days before an election to our troops overseas because of the rigors of combat and the unpredictable nature of military logistical transport. Instead of embracing these “best practices,” the Washington Secretary of State and many county auditors continue to hold on to the failed practice of sending military ballots in the first weeks of October. They claim that three weeks is more than enough time to receive an overseas absentee ballot and return it. This wishful thinking is regularly countered by combat veterans of every description and age. Overall, the Williams/Siegel town hall was a tremendous success. If you would like to receive further updates on the Voter Integrity Project, click on the VIP tab at EFF’s website: www.effwa.org.
EFF Williams/Siegel Town Hall by Alex Bohler
oters from three Washington counties packed the Snohomish County PUD on Wednesday, March 2, to hear from EFF President Bob Williams and popular radio talk show host Mike Siegel. The two were in Everett to speak about the pressing need for substantial election reform, and to give their take on the reform proposals released by the Secretary of State. Organized on the heels of Governor Gregoire’s Election Reform Task Force hearings, the Williams/Siegel Town Hall provided election reform-minded activists with an in-depth review of the Task Force’s meager findings. They also gave the attendees a solid action plan for cleaning up Washington’s problemridden election process by supporting thoughtful legislation in the Washington legislature, and if those efforts fail, speaking about the possibility of an initiative to the people. With nearly 300 attendees present, Williams and Siegel gave compelling speeches about the process, status, and goals of election reform in Washington state. They also reinforced the need for a complete re-registration with legal picture identification, the need for voters to produce proof of citizenship, and, finally, forcing the Secretary of State and
county auditors to follow the lengthy list of state and federal reform legislation passed during the 2002-03 session. Unfortunately, the Governor’s Election Reform Task Force recently released a tepid report that offers very few of the reforms demanded by voters statewide. It’s almost as if they knew what “reforms” they were going to suggest before they even held the meetings! Moving Washington’s primary election forward and calling for increased training of election officials seems to be as far as they are willing to go. More distressingly, the Secretary of State continues to deny that there is any legal way to clean up the voting roles by claiming that requiring voters to produce picture ID and proof of citizenship would violate the federal “Motor Voter” Law. These assertions fly in the face of numerous EFF conversations with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department. Illegal aliens, dead people, and convicted felons are not legal voters in the first place! It is EFF’s belief that re-registration can be accomplished with very little confusion by placing all voters in the state on the “inactive” rolls, as allowed under Motor Voter’s “file maintenance” section, and asking voters to prove
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Government wants to “help you” with health care by Cheryl Hymes
hese days, neither private nor government health plans are containing costs. Why? Here’s the potent combination: • government regulation, • proliferation of mandated benefits, • lack of competition among plans, • too much third-party payment (insurers, employers, government) vs. direct consumer payment, • consumers who don’t know the true costs of care, • a tax code and federal laws that favor large employers, • litigation risks tied to crippling malpractice insurance rates, and • failed managed care contracts that have herded providers into networks of servitude, punitive profiling, cookbook treatment protocols, and excessive overhead. At EFF we support free-market solutions that bring the consumer back into a strong decision-making role. Consumers ought to be the purchasers and evaluators of health care services. Currently, both employers and employees (individuals) are the health care consumers. Both are trapped by a system that has too few vendors and offers little range in plans and pricing. Most of the health care proposals coming out of Olympia this session do not appear to be “consumer-respectful” in terms of reducing costs or empowering individuals. In fact, legislation exists that could do more harm. Here’s a quick review. Play or Pay Legislation Senate Bill 5637 and its companion bill, House Bill 1702 (both entitled “The Health Care Responsibility Act”) are onerous, job-killing, wage-freezing attempts to expand government-run
health care. At this writing, neither appears to be moving this year. I will describe their impact regardless, because their resurrection is a certainty at some point. Dubbed as “play or pay,” SB 5637 would require any employer with 50 or more employees to purchase private health coverage for employees who work 86 or more hours per month. If they fail to do this, the measure requires employers pay a “fee” to the Department of Employment Securities. (In a hearing on February 17, a preliminary estimate of the “fee” was thought to be in the “ball park” of $2.21 per hour per employee up to 86 hours per month.) Neither bill does anything to address the actual CAUSES of rising costs. Instead, they create new costs for employers trying to buy coverage for employees, thus making a significant impact on jobs and wages. These bills are backdoor attempts to weaken private insurance risk pools and usher in single-payer state insurance. Their proponents have no intention of walking away from single-payer state insurance; they will just bide their time and come back again. The Office of Financial Management (OFM) estimates SB 5637 would require the hiring of 35 new state employees and increase state expenditures by $54 million in the 2005-07 biennium and up to $100.9 million by 2009-11. The Employment Policy Institute used information from the Washington Health Care Authority and U.S. census data to estimate that SB 5637 would cost employers in Washington state $1.6 billion in the first year and would destroy 25,500 jobs.
Furthermore, this bill would generate Canadian officials have said they do over $340 million in fees from employers not have the inventory or manufacturing in the first year who ALREADY provide capacity to supply Canadian prescriptions health coverage, but who would end to meet U.S. demand. They import drugs up paying the net difference in private from other countries to sell to the U.S., premium and state fee levels. and these drugs may not have gone According to the Office of Financial through an FDA-like quality control Management’s (OFM) fiscal note, the check. Patient safety is at stake. mandatory “fee” would be a combination HB 1194 would direct the Health Care of state administrative overhead and a Authority to develop an internet website subsidized benchmark rate—both apt using the Pharmacy Connection Program to inflate annually. Employers could to advise and help facilitate the purchase reduce their total fee due the state by of prescription drugs from Canada. paying for health coverage (equivalent to Three malpractice reform measures the Basic Health Plan, or BHP) for their on the November ballot? employees. The state, however, would Next November, Washington voters get to determine equivalent private may be considering three medical malcoverage. Health Savings Accounts practice reform proposals: one proposed with high deductible plans might not by lawyers (Initiative 336); another by be “equivalent.” If an employee turned politicians (SB 6087 and HB 2292); and down employer provided insurance still another proposed by doctors (Initiabecause he or she was covered elsewhere, tive 330). We will provide analysis of the employer would still have to pay the each in future newsletters. state fee under SB 5637! Consumer-friendly legislation In a February 17 hearing on SB 5637, HB 1685 would put a price tag on Cindy Mullenhoff from Yakima, owner all those “mandated benefits.” It would of a state-wide 200-employee nursing require the Office of the Insurance service told legislators that SB 5637 Commissioner to pursue an independent would bankrupt her business. actuarial review of all existing health SB 5637 could have legal problems, care mandated benefits to determine too. Dr. Patricia Butler, author of the their cost impact on premiums. August 2004 briefing for The National 2SSB 5202 directs the Public EmployAcademy for State Health Policy, wrote, ees’ Benefits Board (PEBB) to study “No courts have decided whether ERISA options for offering a Health Savings preempts state ‘play or pay’ employer Account paired with a high-deductible coverage laws.” health plan to state employees, including Bottom line, SB 5637 does not expand recommendations for a pilot project. The choices. It does nothing to control costs. PEBB will submit a report on its findings SB 5637 ignores one-third of the unin- to the legislature by December 1, 2005. sured under age 65 in Washington state At the federal level… who are self-employed. It does not adH.R. 37 (The Health Insurance dress the one-fourth of the uninsured Affordability Act of 2005) would who are unemployed. amend IRS Code to allow individuals SB 5637 and all legislation of its a deduction for premiums paid for high ilk will do harm. It will exacerbate deductible health plans that are used with unemployment with job-killing, wage- a health savings account. depressing predictability. H.R. 66 (The Health Care Freedom Government expansion proposals on of Choice Act) would amend IRS Code the move to provide tax deductibility for direct The House has passed four prescrip- payments of medical expenses by tion drug bills that are more window- individuals, their spouses and dependents dressing than substance when it comes who are not otherwise compensated by to controlling costs. But these bills ex- insurance. This legislation would end pand the scope and power of state gov- the discriminatory practice of providing ernment. Under SSB 5471 and SHB 1219 the Washington Health “MOST OF THE HEALTH CARE PROPOSALS COMING Care Authority (HCA) would grow in power OUT OF OLYMPIA THIS SESSION DO NOT APPEAR as a single purchaser TO BE “CONSUMER-RESPECTFUL” IN TERMS OF of prescription drugs REDUCING COSTS OR EMPOWERING INDIVIDUALS.” for government agencies and private consumers. A purchasers’ tax benefits for employer-provided plans, consortium would be created made up of but not for individually-purchased health local government, private entities, labor care. organizations, and individuals without H.R. 525 (Small Business Health Fairinsurance. OFM’s fiscal note estimates ness Act of 2005) would allow the estabthis bill would add $5.7 million in state lishment and governance of Association expenditures this biennium, growing to Health Plans (AHPs) under the Employee $8 million by 2009. Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 Another bill, SSB 5558, would direct (ERISA). Basically, H.R. 525 would althe HCA to establish a foundation to help low small businesses to band together to people obtain free or low-cost prescrippurchase health insurance under federal tion drugs. ESSB 5470 would move the ERISA oversight through federally certistate Board of Pharmacy into a new arefied AHPs. The AHPs would be exempt na—the licensure of foreign drug wholefrom state regulation of health insurance salers as sources of cheaper prescription providers and state-mandated benefits. drugs for Washington pharmacies. The Board would have to get a waiver from the Federal Food and Drug Administra- Continued on page 11 tion (FDA).
WHITEWASH ELECTION PROBLEMS.
FIX THEM. by Bob Williams
e’ve all heard the story: When Ben Franklin emerged from Independence Hall at the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 an anxious citizen asked: “Well Doctor, what do we have, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” he replied. “If you can keep it.” The task has never been easy, yet many generations of Americans have risen to the challenge. Now it’s our turn to fight the battle right here in Washington state, where we are perilously close to losing our most fundamental right as citizens—the right to vote and know our vote counts. This time our elected representatives are not champions. In the face of undeniable facts showing a severe lack of integrity in our state’s election process, the governor, many legislators and the secretary of state are only pretending to address the problems. Fixing the election system requires immediate adoption of three common sense reforms: 1. Re-register all voters, requiring proof of citizenship and full legal name. 2. Require voters to show proof of identification (photo and signature) at the polls.
3. Implement the election reform laws already on the books. While Republican leaders in the House and Senate seem serious about pursuing these meaningful reforms (and others), Governor Christine Gregoire, Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed, and the Democrat leaders in the legislature are (in some cases literally) twiddling their thumbs. On the day Christine Gregoire took the oath of office, she appointed an Election Reform Task Force and scheduled five hearings around the state. Hundreds of citizens who attended the hearings described real problems and urged real solutions. The Task Force didn’t take either seriously. Its report was issued late (legislative deadlines had passed) and its recommendations were watered down. The Task Force recommended that only first-time voters be required to show identification, which does nothing to eliminate thousands of illegal voters already on the voting rolls. First-time voters who cast their vote absentee would never have to show identification, a fact that becomes even more alarming when coupled with
a bill moving through the legislature that would allow counties to conduct all voting by mail. Amazingly, neither the House nor Senate has scheduled any public hearings to discuss the findings of the Election Task Force. Meanwhile, war-torn countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine have figured out how to conduct elections without resurrecting dead voters or holding get-outthe-vote drives for illegal aliens and felons. In Mexico, citizens who want to register to vote must provide a photo, signature and thumbprint. Voter cards have a picture with a hologram cover, a magnetic strip, and a serial number to guard against tampering. At the polls, voters must present their card and be certified by a thumbprint scanner. Many of our elected officials have clearly forgotten what it means to “keep our republic,” or have simply decided it’s not in their best interest to do so. They prefer to whitewash the problems. That’s not acceptable. We will continue to aggressively promote meaningful election reform through our Voter Integrity Project, and we appreciate your support!
Public records must remain public by Jason Mercier
ashington’s constitution and voter-approved public records law are crystal clear:
All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights. — Article 1, Section 1 Washington State Constitution The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. The public records subdivision of this chapter shall be liberally construed and its exemptions narrowly construed to promote this public policy. — RCW 42.17.251 Despite this clear directive, the state Supreme Court, in two separate rulings, severely weakened the state’s public records law last year. Compounding this problem, some legislators last month flirted with gutting the
state’s public records law by creating an expansive new exemption to records disclosure in the form of a broad-based attorney-client privilege. Considering just who the actual client of the government attorney is, the people, any denial of public records on the grounds of government attorney-client privilege must be severely restricted—not broad-based. A bill to address this problem, SB 5735, was introduced by Attorney General (AG) Rob McKenna. Unfortunately, even in its original form, SB 5735 did not go far enough to ensure that the use of an attorney-client privilege exemption was narrowly defined. Action by a Senate committee on this bill expanded the attorney-client privilege even further. Thankfully, after tremendous public outcry and numerous newspaper editorials condemning this action, the section on attorney-client privilege was removed from the bill. Even though an amendment offered by Sen. Adam Kline (D-Seattle) to address the attorney-client privilege exemption was not adopted in committee, it is worth considering the next time the legislature addresses this issue. Sen. Kline’s amendment would define the attorney-client privilege exemption to exist only if the public records requested related to something subject to an actual legal controversy (the agency was being
sued or reasonably anticipated it would be sued for the activity in question). The only time an attorney-client privilege exemption for government attorneys (who should be representing the interest of the people—not government) makes sense is if an agency is preparing for court and needs to plan legal strategy. Without such legal action, the advice of government attorneys is actually made on behalf of the public as a whole, meaning that the denial of records to the very individuals government attorneys are supposed to be representing is without merit. After all, there’s a reason why government’s records are called public records in the first place: The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created. For further updates on Olympia’s actions concerning public records, visit www.effwa.org
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
WEA Politics Trump Charity by Ryan Bedford
reek mythology describes a youth, Narcissus, who became so enamored by his own beauty reflected in a pool of water that he dared not disturb the water to drink or leave the pool to eat. In short, he lost sight of reality and withered away. Similarly, the Washington Education Association (WEA) has become so captivated with walking in solidarity with its union brothers and sisters that it has put the union agenda above the needs of children. By now you have probably heard the recent media buzz regarding the WEA’s Children’s Fund and Wal-Mart. On March 3, the WEA Children’s Fund Board heard and approved a motion to combine politics and charity at the expense of children. The Fund is an honorable program that provides “$50,000 a year for such things as warm coats, new shoes and basic school supplies to thousands of students who otherwise would go without.” The Fund is financed by one-time donors and fundraising events. Administrative overhead is covered by the WEA general fund (funded by mandatory teachers’ dues). Contributors include Saturn, Staples, and Columbia Dental as well as individuals through the United Way. Teachers can purchase needed items for students and submit receipts to the Fund for reimbursement. The Fund allows teachers to meet the everyday needs of children who might otherwise be hindered in their learning. But this has changed. Despite the direct benefit to children, the WEA Children’s Fund has decided not to reimburse some teachers simply because “[a] great many of the receipts members submit for reimbursement are for purchases from Wal-Mart.” This decision by the Children’s Fund to deny reimbursement of purchases from Wal-Mart has received a lot of scrutiny. EFF broke the story in a press release and opinion-editorial. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran an article which was picked up by the Associated Press and several other news venues. It quickly spread in both local and national news and online discussion groups.
“Unsustainable” continued from page 1 . . . general fund (this is one-time money that won’t be available for the carry forward costs of her program increases for the 2007-09 budget), • defers much-needed pension payments by $524 million, and • raises taxes by $203 million. Gregoire says she has budgeted carefully by priorities. She claims to have left I-601 intact and to have raised no new taxes. Instead, through crafty maneuvers and a budget ruse or two, she has broken her word, as well as the intent of I-601. Initiative 601, passed by taxpayers for their own protection, was already severely compromised in 1999 by Republicans when they were in charge of the budget. Gregoire has now broken its back. I-601 exists in name only. At the same time tricky ways are being devised to increase government spending, the majority party and Governor Gregoire appear unwilling to pass meaningful performance audits. Apparently this is how she intends to “change the culture of state government.” Most legislators moan about the initiative process, but with the behavior we see from Olympia, and with our ballot-counting process so severely compromised, initiatives have become the people’s safeguard. Perhaps we need to send a message of our own about how we think the culture here in Olympia should be changed.
The WEA’s response was predictable. Instead of responding to the issue, union officials attacked the messenger by inaccurately describing EFF’s funding sources. The WEA also quoted feedback from members who supposedly supported the move to blacklist WalMart by an overwhelming 20:1 margin. It did not reveal whether these members were loyal activists or were truly concerned teachers objectively discussing what was best for their students. EFF has heard from many people on all sides of the issue. One long-time teacher wrote saying, “I cannot believe [the WEA is] so tied to their political opinions that they cannot trust their members to do the right thing with the fund to help needy children! It is another sad reminder of how far they have gotten from the loftier goals they had when I first joined their ranks in 1965.” The publicity has already caused the WEA to soften its tone. After EFF pointed out the impact the new policy would have on teachers in rural communities where Wal-Mart is the only retail option, WEA president Charles Hasse told the Seattle P-I, “We’re not going to have some student go without a coat if [Wal-Mart is] the only place it could be purchased.” Until this statement, it seemed that all Wal-Mart receipts were to be rejected and that rural teachers were going to have to bite the bullet. We are grateful these dedicated teachers will not now be penalized for their charitable activities. Regardless of what a person thinks about Wal-Mart, the Children’s Fund has lost touch with its goal to help children and the WEA’s political prejudice has skewered its humanitarian efforts. Of course, the WEA can disburse the Fund however it wants, but what makes the union think that hurting Wal-Mart is more important than meeting the needs of children? Only in the distorted reality in which union officials live can the cause of education, children, and teachers be advanced by refusing to reimburse purchases for needy children.
“Only in the distorted reality in which union officials live can the cause of education, children, and teachers be advanced by refusing to reimburse purchases for needy children.”
A WHERE’S THE ACCOUNTABILITY? by Jason Mercier
This year alone, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) had 41 audit findings issued against it by the state auditor. Twenty-two of those findings related to the state’s $6.1 billion Medicaid program, a program the state auditor was forced to “disclaim” due to DSHS’ obstruction of the audit.
Pop quiz: erous audit has just issued num The state auditor , many of ct re e agency you di findings against th ious year. ev pr dings from the which are repeat fin As a result: by A) You will be fired
t session call you before a join ll wi re atu isl leg e B) Th and what ns of your agency tio ac e th ain pl ex to s. to correct the problem steps you will take anaging blic apology for mism pu a ue iss ll wi u C) Yo n. tax dollars and resig audits while ue to obstruct state in nt co ll wi u Yo D) funding. es to increase your the governor propos s! You’re ed D, congratulation er sw an o wh e os th For or you’re vernment observer, go l ca ni cy a r he eit ton state as people of Washing e th ” ve er “s to y read an agency director.
ccording to the state auditor: “‘Disclaim’ is a term used in auditing standards that means we cannot conclude, based on documentation and other evidence we were provided, whether all of these costs were allowable or whether all clients were eligible for services given to them and all providers were eligible for payments made to them.” To date, however, no public hearings have been held on DSHS’ violations of law, the governor has been silent, and the governor is now proposing more than a billion dollar increase to DSHS’ budget. Unfortunately, DSHS’ audit findings are just the tip of the iceberg. Last month State Auditor Brian Sonntag released the 2004 Statewide Accountability Report highlighting 41 audit findings issued against state agencies (not including the 22 Medicaid related findings previously issued against DSHS). Of the 41 audit findings, 23 are repeat findings from last year’s audit. An additional 16 management letters (problems identified that don’t rise to the level of a finding) were issued to agencies (including seven regarding audit findings from last year that have not been resolved). In addition to the 41 audit findings, the state auditor highlighted the following “audit challenges”: • In addition to refusing to provide electronic records, agencies are using other methods to cause delays in our audits or to require us to spend unnecessary audit resources to accomplish our audit objectives and to meet state and federal auditing requirements. • Some agencies ask us to justify why we want information. In some cases, they have denied us the information, if they are not satisfied with our responses. • Some agencies indicate they are too busy to be audited and ask for a delay. The 41 audit findings consisted of 19 findings for Social and Health Services; five findings for Labor and Industries; four findings for Community Trade and Economic Development; two findings each for Military and Transportation; and one finding each for Corrections, Employment Security, Financial Management, Health, Personnel, Retirement Systems, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Veterans Affairs, and Volunteer Firefighters and Reserves Officers. Among the auditor’s findings: • Department of Retirement Systems is withholding approximately $1.1 million in accounts from beneficiaries of individuals who have been deceased for up to 40 years; • Department of Employment Security (ESD) paid at least $142,847 in unemployment insurance benefits to ineligible individuals. ESD also paid more than $185,000 in benefits to individuals in their first week of unemployment in violation of state law (repeat finding); • Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) does not have adequate controls over payments made to child care providers resulting in $2.2 million in overpayments (repeat finding); • DSHS wrote-off (forgave) $904,497 in required repayment from child care providers (overpayments) without
proper documentation; • DSHS does not adequately ensure costs are properly charged to state and federal funds leading to the questioning of more than $226 million in costs (repeat finding); • DSHS does not perform adequate background checks on child care providers (repeat finding); • Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction did not comply with state and federal requirements when contracting for services, resulting in $2,128,600 in questionable contracts; • Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) did not provide evidence it complied with state bid laws when making more than $7.2 million in technology service purchases (repeat finding); • L&I destroyed 30 percent of its inventory records prior to the approved destruction date (repeat finding); • L&I does not have adequate controls in place to safeguard its pension payment system (the system processes more than $477 million in benefits a year); • L&I was unable to reconcile more than $5.5 million in employer workers’ compensation payments in its financial systems (repeat finding); • L&I cannot account for more than $9 million in employer workers’ compensation payments that were Photo courtesy of Washington State Legislature
“IF OLYMPIA IS REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT BUDGET ACCOUNTABILITY AND BEING A RESPONSIBLE STEWARD OF OUR TAX DOLLARS, STATE AGENCIES MUST BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR AUDIT FINDINGS.” recorded as being received but not deposited (repeat finding); • Department of Corrections does not have adequate controls over its pharmacy inventory to detect or prevent theft or loss of drugs; • Department of Transportation (DOT) made travel payment to employees in excess of written contract amounts (repeat finding); and • DOT does not have adequate controls over ticket sales and revenue collection for state ferries (repeat finding; dates back to 1986). More troubling than 41 audit findings this year is the fact that 23 of them are repeat findings from last year. This is outrageous since state law requires audit corrections occur each year. Obviously someone isn’t doing their job since the problem continues to persist year after year. No one has been held accountable at DOT for the same ferries related finding spanning nearly two decades! If Olympia is really serious about budget accountability and being a responsible steward of our tax dollars, state agencies must be held responsible for their audit findings. Agencies that refuse to cooperate with the state auditor should be severely dealt with to illustrate that business as usual will no longer be tolerated. Problems identified in the auditor’s report have nothing to do with how efficient agencies are—rather, they show violations of law. Imagine the savings that could be realized by auditing the actual performance of agency programs! For now, legislators should start by eliminating the fraud, abuse, and violations of law highlighted year after year by the state auditor.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Higher taxes for higher teacher salaries? by Marsha Richards
ood teachers do not work for free, nor do we expect them to. Like members of any profession, they should earn salaries that reflect the value they bring to the classroom. Research and common sense tell us the single most important controllable factor in student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. Currently, public school teachers in Washington earn an average salary of $45,444 a year, and when benefits and supplemental income are added, their total average compensation is $62,653 a year. Is this too much or too little? It’s both. Our state’s inflexible teacher salary structure pays all teachers the same based on which slot they fall into on a grid (determined by time in the profession and degrees earned) instead of how well they do their jobs. That means poor teachers exist who shouldn’t be in the classroom at all alongside excellent teachers who are not allowed to earn a salary that reflects their ability. Unfortunately, it’s too late to fix our badly designed teacher pay model this legislative session, but we can certainly take a hard look at a bill that would provide regional pay increases for public school employees. HB 1484 (which passed the House on March 16) would allow counties to run levies that permanently increase
property taxes by as much as $0.75 per $1,000 assessed value (about $165 a year for property worth $220,000). The money collected would be distributed to school districts based on how many full-time employees they have and would be divided in accordance with unionnegotiated contracts. The regional pay increases would come on top of annual cost-of-living salary increases received through I-732; annual “step” increases received by teachers as they file into the next slot on the state salary grid; and periodic increases in the state’s base salary allocations. If we accept the claim that every teacher in the state is underpaid (instead of acknowledging that some are and some are not), we’re left to answer two questions: First, is HB 1484 well crafted legislation? And second, is it possible to provide salary increases without raising property taxes? The measure raises some serious concerns: • The money collected by the permanent property tax levies would be spent according to union-negotiated contracts. Dollars may be diluted by layers of administration and bureaucracy. In the past, the union has negotiated levy dollars for purposes other than what was advertised to taxpayers. • The bill would allow simple-majority approval of permanent property tax
increases with no minimum voter turnout requirements. This appears to violate constitutional provisions that govern ballot measures run during special levy elections (which include almost all school levies). • Levies approved under HB 1484 are exempt from limitations and caps that govern other regular levies and various taxing districts. Further, there are no laws to force levy dollars to be spent as advertised to voters. • The bill would result in dramatic disparities between property-poor and property-rich counties. For example, based on county property values the levy would allow King to collect $13,996 per teacher, Spokane $4,681 and Clark $5,976. This violates the state constitution and invites lawsuits demanding equalization. In addition to these problems, lawmakers and education officials need to account for the money they’re already spending. By seeking tax increases, they’re claiming current dollars are being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible—not just in education, but in all of the state’s programs and agencies. Recent audit findings involving billions of dollars tell us otherwise and the state’s education spending
raises sharp questions. According to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, we’re spending $9,688 per student per year for K-12 schools (including the cost to build schools and pay interest on debts). That’s about $9.5 billion a year. Of that amount, only 42.3 percent is spent on what the state calls “basic education,” which includes teacher salaries. Fulltime teacher salaries and compensation account for just 31.7 percent of all K-12 education spending. Can state education officials honestly look taxpayers in the eye and say that 68.3 percent of all the dollars spent on education (as well as all other dollars the state spends) are being used for something more important than a high quality teacher in every student’s classroom? It seems doubtful.
1 Part Honesty; 2 Parts Arrogance
Education Bills: Dead or Alive? ISSUE Removing supermajority requirement for school levies. Ending state’s mandatory participation in normreferenced testing. Requiring a finance study for K-12 and higher education. Creating the Joint Select Committee on Equal Opportunity for All to promote diversity training in schools. Allowing permanent property tax levies to provide regional pay increases for school employees. Requiring schools that choose to teach sex education to use state-developed curriculum. Requiring parental consent for students to participate in sex education programs. Requiring testing vendors to provide “diagnostic assessments” on student test results so teachers and parents have specific information about a child’s progress in core subjects. Authorizing a full-day kindergarten program as part of basic education. Requiring verification of teaching degrees used to obtain salary increases. Revoking certificates or permits of educational employees possessing pornography on school grounds. * As of Wednesday, March 23, 2005.
BILL # HJR 4205
HB 1659 / SB 5938
Rep. Jim McIntire (D - 46) (360) 786-7886
t a March 23, 2005, House Appropriations hearing on a bill to gut the voter-approved I-601 spending limit, Rep. Jim McIntire (D) asked a supporter of I-601’s two-thirds supermajority requirement for the legislature to raise taxes the following question:
“Can you name a time when we [legislators] have actually not just set it [supermajority requirement] aside by majority vote? I mean, this is in many respects a procedural motion that has no bearing. It’s a statutory constraint that cannot constrain any legislature that chooses as a majority to set it aside . . . have we ever used a supermajority [to raise taxes]?” Dispite this statement, Washington’s consitution is clear: “All political power is inherent in the people... .”
“Shall” means shall, not “may” by Bob Williams
ith budget difficulties and the recent election fiasco front and center in the public debate, a lesson in semantics may not be high on Olympia’s priority list, but, sadly, it is needed. Consider the impact that just one little word’s meaning has on a variety of state laws and directives: “shall.” If “shall” means “must” then all the statutes that state something “shall” happen should be followed and enforced. Otherwise the law has been violated. If “shall” instead means “may,” then a host of state statutes are merely a waste of paper, since there is no requirement that
WHEN ASKED WHY THE SECRETARY OF STATE DID NOT IMPLEMENT THE RULES REQUIRED IN THE
2003 LEGISLATION, SHERYL MOSS,
WHO MANAGES THE
CERTIFICATION AND TRAINING PROGRAM IN THE STATE ELECTIONS DIVISION OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE, SAID THEY WERE TOLD BY THEIR ATTORNEYS THAT “SHALL” REALLY DOESN’T MEAN “SHALL.”
the prescribed actions actually occur. For example, consider the election reform bill passed in 2003 by the legislature and made effective July 1, 2004 (prior to last year’s election disaster). In that bill the legislature determined: • The secretary of state shall ensure that each county auditor is provided with the most recent version of the election laws of the state...Where amendments have been enacted after the last compilation of the election laws, he or she shall ensure that each county auditor receives a copy of those amendments before the next primary or election. • The secretary of state as chief election officer shall make reasonable rules in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW not inconsistent with the federal and state election laws to effectuate any provision of this title and to facilitate the execution of its provisions in an orderly, timely, and uniform manner relating to any federal, state, county, city, town, and district elections. To that end the secretary shall assist local
election officers by devising uniform forms and procedures. In addition to the rule-making authority granted otherwise by this section, the secretary of state shall make rules governing the following provisions...(these are the 50 plus rules the secretary of state was required to implement prior to the 2004 election but neglected to do so.) When asked why the secretary of state did not implement the rules required in the 2003 legislation, Sheryl Moss, who manages the Certification and Training Program in the State Elections Division of the secretary of state’s office, said they were told by their attorneys that “shall” really doesn’t mean “shall.” Intrigued by this statement, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation requested a copy of that attorney general’s opinion. The response we received: “We cannot identify any documentation responsive to your request.” This is not surprising when one considers what the state’s code reviser has to say about the word “shall”: • “Shall” should only be used to mean “has a duty to.” That is, to require the performance of an act. For example, “the governor shall appoint a director...” • “May” indicates discretion and is used to confer a right, privilege, or power. • To determine whether the use of “shall” or “may” is correct, a helpful test is to mentally substitute for the word “may” the words “has the authority to” and substitute for the word “shall” the words “has the duty to.” This reading will make it readily apparent whether the usage is correct. When legislators said the secretary of state “shall,” they did not mean “may.” Here’s what Webster’s dictionary has to say on the topic: “Shall—a) used to express a command or exhortation, b) used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory.” Looks like “shall” actually means “shall” after all. EFF has reviewed what the state constitution has to say about elections and our conclusion is that most of the problems we experienced in the 2004 election were the result of state and county election officials refusing to take “shall” seriously. Consider the following: 1. Article VI, Section 1. “All persons of age eighteen years or over who are citizens of the United States and who have lived in the state, county, and precinct thirty days immediately preceding the election at which they offer to vote except those disqualified by Article VI, Section 3 of this Constitution, shall be entitled to vote at all elections.” In plain English: In order to vote in our state, you must be a living U.S. citizen who resides here. 2. Article VI, Section 4. “For the purpose of voting and eligibility to office no person shall be deemed to have gained a residence by reason of his presence or lost it by reason of his absence, while in the civil or military
Not to toot our own horn, but . . .
Michael, I am a kindergarten te acher in the Clover Pa rk school district after years of w ork outside the classroo m. I am soooo grateful th at your organization ke ep s the WEA honest. Plea se don’t take your eye off the ball. I pay huge month ly dues and don’t know how the money is being us ed. I certainly don’t se e an y personal good that com es out of these dues. We live in scary times with a lot of stress that is being put on us and th us we continue to pay dues out of fear. I want to say thank yo u to your organization for their good work. Pamela Bergkamp Clover Park School D ist
service of the state or of the United States, nor while a student any institution of learning...” In plain English: The practice in Whatcom County and several other counties of allowing outof-state students to vote in Washington state elections is unconstitutional. These are illegal votes and should not be counted. 3. Article VI, Section 6. “All elections shall be by ballot. The legislature shall provide for such method of voting as will secure to every elector absolute secrecy in preparing and depositing his ballot.” It appears that most of our absentee ballots violate this provision of the constitution. There is no way the state can guarantee an elector absolute secrecy in preparing and depositing his absentee ballot. And if the reports from the Secretary of State are correct, 4.9 percent of the absentee ballots returned were rejected. It is important to remember that absentee ballots are only sent to registered voters so this seems like a high rejection rate.
4. Article VI, Section 7. “The legislature shall enact a registration law, and shall require a compliance with such law before any elector shall be allowed to vote.” Three shalls in one sentence indicate that the framers of the constitution really wanted this part of the constitution upheld. Again in English, no one has the right to vote in Washington state unless: 1. They are a living U.S. citizen who has resided in Washington state for at least 30 days. 2. They are not a convicted felon (unless their civil rights have been restored). 3. They have not been judicially declared mentally incompetent. Now the question is, how can we get the governor, the secretary of state, legislators, and state and county election officials to uphold their oath of office to support and defend the constitution? In other words, how can we obtain compliance with the “shall” in the constitution and our laws?
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
The Unions’ Million-Dollar Babies by Michael Reitz
ov. Christine Gregoire signed her very first bill (SB 5097) into law on February 24, 2005, declaring how much “fun” it was for her as governor. Union officials seemed to be having a pretty good time, too. Senate Bill 5097 requires any contractor working on a public works project costing a million dollars or more to reserve 15 percent of the positions for employees enrolled in apprenticeship programs. This law guarantees more public works projects for union contractors, since the state’s apprenticeship program is weighted heavily in favor of the union. As a result, the ability of non-union contractors to compete for million-dollar contracts is greatly reduced. Contractors testifying against this bill noted: “Apprenticeship utilization requirements force some contractors to stop bidding on public works projects. This loss of competition will cause public works costs to go up . . . Apprenticeship utilization requirements are not about workforce training. Instead, they give union contractors a competitive advantage over open shop contractors on public works projects.” There are no guarantees the law will accomplish a growth in apprenticeship programs, as its proponents claim. Representative Cary Condotta observed that a similar measure enacted by executive order from former Gov. Gary Locke failed to increase the number
of apprenticeship programs. The law only creates an uneven playing field weighted toward unions. Labor organizations are, of course, the state’s biggest political players, and gave $720,000 to Gregoire’s gubernatorial recount effort. Now, the first bill with her signature on it virtually guarantees a larger political war chest for unions. Gregoire knows she is in labor’s debt, and told a group of labor leaders, “I fully appreciate everything you’ve done to make it possible for me to serve you and the citizens of the state of Washington.” Regardless of the merits of an apprenticeship program, the state shouldn’t be in the business of dictating who contractors must employ—it should be working to secure the best bids for public works projects. And lawmakers should not facilitate union political spending with taxpayer dollars. The legislature passed SB 5097 as an “emergency bill,” which prevents it from being overturned by referendum. Given our budget shortfalls this year, the number of apprentices contractors employ hardly rises to the level of a legislative emergency. Legislation was introduced to restrict unions’ ability to spend mandatory dues on politics, but it died in committee. Even if it had passed the Democratcontrolled Legislature, closing the spigot of unfettered union money to her future campaigns probably isn’t Gregoire’s idea of “fun.”
IN HIS OWN
Franklin D. Roosevelt Message to Congress on Social Security, January 17, 1935
Health care continued from page 5 . . . H.R. 160 (Tax Credits for Insurance Premiums “Save Act”) would allow (1) individuals and families a refundable tax credit for the cost of private health insurance; (2) advance payments of the health insurance tax credit to health insurance providers; (3) a tax deduction from gross income (whether or not the taxpayer itemizes) for premiums paid for high deductible health insurance plans; and (4) certain small business employers a general business tax credit for contributions to a health savings account. H.R. 118 (The Keeping Small Businesses Healthy Act of 2005) would provide a refundable tax credit to small businesses that bear 65 percent or more of the costs of qualified health insurance purchased on behalf of at least 75 percent of their employees. H.R. 578 (Tax Credits for Prescription Drug Purchases Prescription Drug Affordability Act) would
provide an income tax credit for individuals who have reached social security retirement age equal to 80 percent of the amount paid by the taxpayer during the taxable year (and not compensated for by insurance or other program). H.R. 218 (The Health Care Tax Deduction Act of 2005) would allow individuals a tax deduction from gross income for health insurance premiums and un-reimbursed prescription drug expenses paid for the benefit of the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse and dependents. H.R. 55 would allow Americans between the ages of 55–65 who do not have health insurance to purchase coverage from the Federal Employees Health Benefits program. You can read actual text of federal legislation and find out what action has been taken on a particular bill by going to http://thomas.loc.gov/.
“In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are not too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual annuities can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.”
INTERN PROFILES by Sarah Carrico
Michael Vernon EFF intern Michael Vernon is a senior at Saint Martin’s College majoring in Political Science and International Relations. Michael has been working under Jason Mercier since last fall, who is, coincidentally, one of his EFF favorites. “In two months, Jason taught me the importance of accountability both fiscally and personally. In four, I learned why local and state government is just as important as federal. And in six, I learned the all-important rule that I can’t do it all without a little help from the other EFF staff members.” Just like the rest of our staffers, of course, Michael is more than just research and policy. Michael’s family is from Snohomish County, where he was reared with his younger sister. He graduated from Seattle’s O’Dea High School in 2001 and moved on to Saint Martin’s College, where he’s been an active student (Michael took a semester ‘abroad’ to study in Washington, D.C. last year) and member of the College Republicans. Michael is a practical young man, a hard worker, and a logical thinker. He says his biggest life goal at this point is “to strive for one (goal) that will make me the happiest. Right now, that is doing research and analysis on Russia and the European Union for a think tank or an organization that contracts-out to the government.” In the future Michael would like to be married and help make “this country a safer place for my future children to grow up.”
Amy Bakker If you’ve called EFF in the last six months, chances are you’ve spoken with Amy Bakker, EFF’s current high school intern and resident ray of perpetual sunshine (which is something we all need during the legislative session!). Amy is currently an assistant to EFF office manager Marie Giger. On a given day, you’ll find Amy making copies, filing, answering phones, and
exclaiming, as we all have: “The copy machine stumps us all except for Juliana!” (Thanks, Juliana!) Amy is from Olympia, where she’s lived in the same house her entire life. Home schooled until eighth grade, she is now a senior at Northwest Christian High School where she’s played tennis and volleyball and maintains a 3.5 GPA. She’s looking forward to attending college upon graduation. A constant source of laughs and smiles at EFF, Amy always has an upbeat attitude and a positive view of everyone and everything. This showed when asked who her favorite EFF staffer was: “I like everyone here, they are so much fun! Mr. Williams is great, Marie is a wonderful first boss, and Mrs. Harsh is a wonderful role model, but it’s impossible to choose a favorite person.”
VOLUME 15, Issue 4 Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.effwa.org Living Liberty is a publication of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.
Editors: Lynn Harsh Marsha Richards
Publisher: Joel Sorrell EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, personal responsibility, and limited and accountable government.
“Quote” of the month
“The problem is not that people are taxed too little; the problem is that government spends too much.” — Ronald Reagan