2006 SESSION REVIEW 4
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FOUNDATION 1 FACTS ABOUT WASHINGTON’S PUBLICFREEDOM SCHOOLS 9
COURT RULINGS 7
LIVING LIBERTY APRIL 2006
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Looking back at a political establishment that thumbed its nose at both taxpayers and the law
2006 SESSION Restore the balance of power
by Lynn Harsh
2006 Legislative Session: Doh!
by Jason Mercier
similar theme winds its way through this month’s news. Perhaps it can best be id you hear about the poll that asked Americans how many of the five funsummed up as arrogance by the three branches of government toward citizens, damental freedoms protected by the First Amendment they could name, and who are the true sovereigns of this country. compared that with how many family members they could name from the TV show You will read about the recent state Supreme Court ruling giving an association more The Simpsons? right to a political voice than that of an individual. The majority on the court said the Unfortunately, most Americans could name more Simpsons than First Amendment Washington Education Association has rights, and based on some recent court decisions, it appears our nation’s judges may the right to use non-member teacher fees also be spending more time watching cartoons than reading the Constitution. for politics of the association’s choosing, For the curious or forgetful, the rights protected by the First Amendment are freeeven when teachers object. This decision dom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances. The affects all union employees, and we hope five main Simpson family members are Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. this case ends up in the U.S. Supreme So what does this have to do with the 2006 Legislative Session? Court. It looks like Democrat lawmakers were reading from Lisa Simpson’s political playThen there is the way the majority party book for marketing unpopular policy decisions. Consider the following exchange in the legislature thumbed its nose at from a Simpsons episode in which Lisa Simpson is elected President of the United taxpayers and the law. The state arguing States and has to find a way to balance the budget: on behalf of the governor and legislature Lisa: As you know, we’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump. tried to hide emails from the public eye How bad is it Secretary Van Houten? that made it clear state budget writers were gaming the system to wring more money Milhouse: We’re broke. out of taxpayers. Part of the enormous increase in spending approved by the legislature Lisa: The country is broke? How can that be? depended on getting more revenue from new taxes—taxes a Superior Court judge said were illegal to collect under I-601 without specific voter approval. The executive and legislative branches are still unwilling to truly clean up our Continued on page 5 election process. It seems this is because it won’t be politically popular with those who apparently think voting should be the right of everyone whose Evergreen Freedom Foundation NON-PROFIT ORG. feet are on American soil—legally or illegally. PO Box 552 U.S. POSTAGE Citizens are the bosses in this country, and Olympia, WA 98507 PAID it’s up to us to restore a balance of power. This OLYMPIA, WA is best done at the ballot box where we have the PERMIT #462 Address service requested privilege of electing and unelecting individuals for every position in all three branches of government. Elections at every level have very real consequences.
“Citizens are the bosses in this country, and it’s up to us to restore a balance of power.”
Waste Watchers: by Drew Gaut
"In 2000, after completing prison time
and receiving a degree in social services, Krontz was put in charge of a DSHS program with a $32 million budget."
rthur Krontz was hired by the state’s Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) in 1999, despite three prior felony fraud convictions. In 2000, after completing prison time and receiving a degree in social services, Krontz was put in charge of a DSHS program with a $32 million budget. The program serves severely disabled children. Despite his prior record, he received no extra supervision or audits. The level of bureaucracy and paperwork in the program Krontz managed created an ideal setting for gaining access to large amounts of money. He dipped into that budget for himself, robbing the state of $126,000.
This information was exposed accidentally by another honest DSHS employee. She wondered aloud the same thing we are asking: How come policies were ignored that would have prevented him from being hired in the first place? How did he get by with this level of fraudulent activity for so long? DSHS is a huge behemoth of an agency, and one wonders how much of this is still going on. The agency deals with many of our most vulnerable citizens, so it must bend over backwards to clean up its own house.
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“Quote” “Let’s face it...as members of a legislative body we occasionally vote on bills we know nothing about. We simply take the advice of somebody who does. This is one of those bills. I know nothing about this bill. I’ll just take it on advice.”
This Issue 3 4
– Sen. Adam Kline (D) Dist. 37
VOLUME 16, Issue 4 EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.
Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.effwa.org
5 6 7
3 LETTER FROM LYNN IT’S UPSTREAM WE GO
SENATOR MULLIKEN PROTECTS $4 MILLION IN DOT AUDIT FUNDING 4 LABOR POLICY THIS SESSION EDUCATION BILLS PASSED ELECTION REFORM: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY 5 LEGISLATORS TURN TEMPORARY “SURPLUS” INTO LONG-TERM TAX INCREASE 6 EFF PRESS CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR ELECTION REFORM 7 COURT RULINGS WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT “TURNS FIRST AMMENDMENT ON ITS HEAD” VICTORY FOR WASHINGTON TAX PAYERS
8 9 10
8 WASHINGTON UNION MEMBERSHIP RATES DROP FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW DISENFRANCHISED STATE WORKERS 9 WEA’S CAMPAIGN MISLEADS FACTS ABOUT WASHINGTON’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS 10 EFF POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS SHOW UP IN 2006 BILLS UPDATING WASHINGTON’S VOTER REGISTRATION ROLLS
12 THE INESCAPABLE FACTS ON PUBLIC EDUCATION
“Voters in every political party are disenfranchised by ballots cast illegally by people who have no right to vote.”
Drunk hotel continued from above . . .
EFF President Bob Williams speaks to reporters about election reform at an EFF press conference on the Capitol steps.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
by Lynn Harsh
LET TER FROM LY NN
It’s upstream we go
f you are a mature salmon going downstream during spawning season, you are probably dead. Depending on the species, salmon mark the springtime by muscling their bodies from quieter water where they have gained size and strength back upstream hundreds of miles through rapidly moving water. Instinct propels them to spawn in the place they were born. The channels they travel, whether in large rivers or tributaries, move forcefully in the opposite direction the salmon need to go. This act of re-creation to ensure survival of another generation is remarkable. And it’s immensely difficult. I’ve had the occasion to forge through forceful water myself, but not for survival. In the summer, whitewater moves powerfully through the canyons and bends of some of my favorite rivers. The reduced volume exposes treacherous islands of rock and nature’s debris, and maneuvering a vessel through them tests a person’s mental and physical agility. Once I ventured out in the spring. Just once. The volume of water from spring run-off is enormous, and it shoots you every which way through the canyons and around bends at nearly the speed of light. Attempting to maneuver the vessel properly did not seem as difficult as just staying in it. Either time of year, it’s all downstream. Imagine knowing that the survival of your species depended on you successfully navigating those waters while going upstream! It might not be as magnanimous a matter as the survival of our species, but a similar understanding is necessary to ensure the survival of our country. Keeping a republic like America alive, where individual liberty and the rule of law is honored, is an uphill struggle that each generation must conclude successfully. When the majority of an American generation decides to drift downstream with the popular current of the time, they will die without “spawning,” so to speak. A couple of lazy generations like this, and a country begins to be history. Floating downstream is the easier route, and it might seem adventurous at times. But it will not get the job done, and most of you reading this column understand
this is true. Going against the flow is just plain hard, but it builds our civic muscles and strengthens our character. Besides, if we don’t determine to swim upstream for as long as it takes to recreate the essentials of freedom, we cannot keep it alive for the next generation. Only fools fail to learn lessons from their ancestors. We already know what happens to people who refuse to govern themselves, who never take care of tomorrow, and who expect government to meet their needs. Eventually these people become mere chattel in the hands of despots. It is not inevitable that America will survive as a free country. From a civil government standpoint, we will only do so if we surmount the obstacles that stand in the way of us recreating liberty. Even a couple of decade’s worth of terrible legislative sessions and Congressional
spending sprees cannot stop us from reaching anew the place of freedom’s birth. But when one generation after another follows each other downstream...well, that’s a different matter. The answer will not be found in discouragement, but in determination. Let us not despair at the recent trends toward bigger government and less freedom. Instead, let us point our heads upstream and start swimming. Persuade others to join. Be encouraged to know there are more of us than you might think, and we’re making this worthwhile journey together.
Full-time legislature? I received lots of mail about my criticism last month of a potential full-time legislature. Most people agreed, but some think government has grown too complex to be managed by a part-time legislature. Hmmm. The less time elected officials spend in Olympia or anywhere else doing official business, the less time they have to come up with new ways to “help” us. I think we should let them keep the same salary and work less. That way they could hold regular jobs that they would need to get back to quickly. It would save us all money. Perhaps legislators should receive bonuses for every day they do nothing, because that would really be something. Maybe we should make Olympia a less desirable place to work. Take out the marble in these buildings and replace it with faux wood paneling. (I think FEMA has a surplus right now.) Remove the heat and air conditioning. Take out the cafeteria and replace it with a buffet of breakfast, lunch and dinner MREs. Furniture could be the fold-up and fold-out kind. Lobbyists would be here and gone in a flash. None of this hanging around offices day after day in hopes of wearing down another legislator. In some ways, it would be survival of the fittest, and TVW would turn into reality television. Citizens would be sure to tune in to see what was happening with their government. It’s not punishment I have in mind; rather, setting the tone of what governing in America is supposed to be about: sacrificial service for a small portion of an individual’s life. Healthy human beings should not want to spend their lifetimes in an elected office. As voters, we should see to it they don’t. Our Founders survived very primitive conditions by our standards, and they did a pretty good job representing the citizens’ interests in the limited arenas where government belongs. Had you visited Washington D.C. in the early days, you would have shared the street with livestock. Pigs ran freely through the streets. Come to think about it…okay, that would be a cheap shot! So how about this for a slogan: Get less and have more!
Senator Mulliken protects $4 million in DOT audit funding by Jason Mercier
axpayers owe a big thank you to Sen. remind them that the legislature had agreed Joyce Mulliken and all those who to spend $4 million auditing DOT’s perforfought to retain last session’s $4 million mance. The message from lawmakers to in funding for performance audits of the voters last year appeared to be clear: Give Department of Transportation! us the new taxes and we will fund compreTo secure Republican votes for the 2005 hensive performance audits of DOT. multi-billion dollar transportation tax Voters agreed to keep the transportaincrease package (SB 6103), legislators tion tax increase, and they also voted for authorized the state auditor to contract for I-900, which put in place independent performance audits of the Department of performance audits covering all levels of Transportation (DOT). They set aside $4 government. At that point, some legislamillion from the new taxes raised to do this. Sen. Joyce Mulliken (R) Dist. 13 tors during the 2006 Session attempted to Citizens who were angry about the tax eliminate the $4 million they promised for increase crafted Initiative 912 to repeal the DOT audits. They said the auditor didn’t gas-tax portion of the increases. But a big selling point need the $4 million. His office could use funds authoin the argument made to voters to reject the repeal was to rized by I-900 to conduct performance audits of DOT.
We reminded legislators that eliminating the $4 million meant they were breaking their word to taxpayers. Sen. Mulliken went to bat for taxpayers and was able to secure a letter from State Auditor Brian Sonntag that read in part: “Thank you for asking about our position on SB 6839 and on the $4 million appropriation for a performance audit of the Washington State Department of Transportation. We would like to keep the appropriation and use it to audit the Department of Transportation.” The legislature ultimately retained the $4 million in promised funding for DOT performance audits. Thanks to Sen. Mulliken’s efforts, transportation will receive the priority review promised by the legislature, while not compromising I-900’s funding for other performance audits.
2006 SESSION IN REVIEW >>> 2006 SESSION IN REVIEW >>> 2006 SESSION IN REVIEW >>> 2006 SESSION IN REVIEW >>>
HB 2921 required school districts to post collective bargaining agreements on the district website. Anyone who has tried to get a copy of the union contract knows how difficult this can be. After Seattle teachers ratified their 2004 collective bargaining agreement, EFF went through a 7-month process to get the contract from the district. Several bills were introduced that would have continued the assault against Initiative 134 (passed by 72 percent of the voters in 1992). Bills in the House and Senate would have allowed for public funding of political candidates for local office, while another bill in the Senate would have created a public funding system for statewide offices. The use of taxpayer funds to finance political campaigns is not a core function of government and these bills all died before end of session.
Education bills passed
2006 I SESSION IN REVIEW
by Marsha Richards
Labor policy this session by Michael Reitz
number of bills passed during the 2006 Legislative Session that expand organized labor’s grip on public employees. House Bill 2353, promoted heavily by the Service Employees union, unionizes in-home child care providers who receive state subsidies. The bill is expected to affect 10,000 in-home care providers. These workers will bargain directly with the governor’s office for salary, benefits, and other economic conditions. Representative Chandler introduced an amendment that would have prohibited unions from requiring payment of dues, but this amendment failed. HB 2780 gives unions the ability to collect political contributions from state workers through automatic payroll deductions. Unions will still have to comply with the requirement to get written authorization for the contributions. One bill that did not pass would have eliminated the requirement for unions to get worker permission before automatically deducting union dues through the state payroll system. House Bill 2807 appeared to be an attempt by the unions to collect dues from the employees who have refused to sign authorization cards, while avoiding bad press for firing these workers. This bill died in committee. A number of bills that deal with workers’ fundamental rights regarding union membership were considered. These deserve another look in the next session. Senate Bill 6755 (Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-15th) prohibited the inclusion of a union security clause in state employee collective bargaining agreements. State workers would not be required to pay union “representation fees” in order to keep their jobs. State workers are currently operating under union security agreements and some 300 have been threatened with termination. Senate Bill 6756 (Sen. Honeyford) required public sector unions to disclose detailed financial information annually to all members of the bargaining unit. This would give workers information about the union’s financial practices when making a professional decision about union membership. Reports would include: assets and liabilities; salary, benefits and allowances of officers and employees; income received from affiliated labor organizations; and itemized accounts for collective bargaining, litigation, public relations activity, political activity, and voter education. House Bill 2449 (Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-30th) contained a provision that prohibits corporations and labor organizations from using general treasury funds to influence elections. While state statutes require union members to give permission before a portion of their salary is diverted to a political action committee (PAC), unions bypass this requirement by collecting general dues from workers and laterally transferring general treasury funds to the union PAC. HB 2449 would have ensured that all union member contributions to PACs are voluntary. Also of interest: A bill was introduced that would formally make strikes by public school teachers illegal under Washington statute. HB 2808 (Rep. Nixon, R-45th District) would also give local judges the authority to fine striking unions up to ten thousand dollars a day for violations. Common law already prohibits strikes by public school employees. HB 2808 would codify the state’s case law, and significantly increase penalties for union officials who defy court orders to stop striking. Parents, teachers, school board members, and legislators deserve to know that powerful teacher union officials won’t be able to disrupt their lives every time they reach an impasse in contract negotiations.
wish I could say our legislature made good strides toward meaningful education reform this session, but alas. Here’s a brief summary of the education-related bills that made it into law. Governor Christine Gregoire requested and received a new state Department of Early Learning (HB 2964). The purpose of the department is to coordinate and consolidate the state’s child care and early learning programs and develop a system for licensing such programs to “ensure that minimum standards are being met.” We have many concerns with the state getting involved in early childhood learning, not the least of which is the unfortunate failure of our current K-12 system. It’s difficult to see the logic in expanding the bureaucracy. The legislature has commissioned yet another study, this one to identify shared characteristics among students who are struggling to pass the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) and identify alternative assessments (SB 6618). Starting in the 2006-07 school year, students will have alternatives to the WASL graduation requirement (SB 6475). Students who fail the test may be allowed to use a combination of their highest score and grades, or submit a portfolio of work samples. The bill takes a positive step in allowing students to use scores from reliable tests like the PSAT, SAT, and ACT to show competency in mathematics. SB 3127 revives the Center for the Improvement of Student Learning, which operates under the jurisdiction of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Center’s stated purpose is to identify and publish best practices to improve instruction. The bill also creates an education ombudsman, appointed by the governor, to inform parents about schools and increase parental involvement. Research conducted in 2004 by EFF student intern Sarah Carrico has resulted in another bill (HB 2507) to prohibit and punish the sale and use of false academic degrees. In an interesting experiment, the state is requiring the Superintendent of Public Instruction to pursue a pilot project in which a select few school districts will be allowed to use student assessments other than the WASL for grades 3, 5, 6 and 8. This is a step in the right direction, since it means local control, more reliable student assessments, and more efficient spending (the WASL is both expensive and unreliable). And last, the legislature enacted a law to require civics instruction for students. State education officials will develop a curriculum guide for districts to use. We will comment more on this issue in subsequent newsletters.
Election reform: a missed opportunity by Jonathan Bechtle
ast year, terms like “provisional ballots” and “re-vote” were on everyone’s lips, and our election crisis was so obvious that nearly every legislator had to take a public stand of some kind on the issue. This year, dozens of election-related bills were filed or re-filed, but few of them received even one committee hearing. A couple of bills that did pass were, on the whole, positive changes. But overall, this session can be summed up as a missed opportunity. One change accomplished was moving the primary election date to the third Tuesday in August, which also moved candidate filing dates to earlier in the year. Senate Bill 6236, sponsored by Senator Dave Schmidt (R-44th District), will help auditors get military ballots mailed on time, and will allow time for recounts and challenges between the primary and general election. Secretary of State Sam Reed has made the primary date change one of his top priorities and announced after its passage that “one of the last solutions to the 2004 election problems fell into place.” Unfortunately, he has oversold its value. By itself, giving the auditors more time will not fix the problems of non-citizens remaining on our voting rolls, election crimes going uninvestigated, and mail ballots being sent without adequate security. The legislature made another necessary change by passing Senate Bill 6362, which clarified our voter challenge law. Voter challenges are a necessary part of the process of keeping voter rolls clean; a big piece of the “partnership” between auditors and voters election officials like to talk about. Yet the combination of a vague law and Continued on page 6
2006 SESSION IN REVIEW >>> 2006 SESSION IN REVIEW >>> 2006 SESSION IN REVIEW >>> 2006 SESSION IN REVIEW >>>
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Legislators turned today’s temporary “surplus” into tomorrow’s long-term tax increase by Jason Mercier
efore adjourning the 2006 Legislative Session, Democrats (except for Sen. Tim Sheldon) were joined by Republican Senators Benton, Deccio, McCaslin, and Roach in approving a record-setting supplemental budget. They labeled their action responsible, apparently because they could have spent more of the $1.5 billion “surplus” than the $1.35 billion they did spend. Some even claimed the new spending reflects the state’s Priorities of Government (POG) performance-based budget model. We strongly disagree that this budget was fiscally responsible or that it followed the POG model. Here’s why.
First, what is a supplemental budget? A supplemental budget is an adjustment for unforeseen emergencies that can’t wait until the next budget is considered, which would be next year. Here are some of the 2006 “emergencies.” • Hiring 816 new full-time state employees; • $10.7 million for medical and dental care for children of illegal aliens; • $7 million for minor-league baseball stadiums; • A $420,000 increase in funding for illegal alien family planning programs; • $125,000 for a “People of Color Curriculum Review” at the University of Washington; and • $100,000 for tourism branding and marketing associated with the January 2007 United States figure skating championships in Spokane. In reality, hundreds of millions of dollars were approved for new or expanded policies that had nothing to do with emergencies. Furthermore, the increased spending approved this year will result in a projected deficit for the next budget—even before any new programs are considered in 2007.
budget should not have exceeded that increased amount. Had the legislature stayed within those revised boundaries, $300 million would have been deposited into the state’s protected emergency reserve account. This “revised” limit is one billion dollars higher than the original limit for the biennium. Not satisfied with this extra spending capacity, Democrat legislative leaders further gutted I-601 this year to artificially increase the limit to nearly $28 billion—almost a $3 billion increase from the biennium’s original limit!
Fourth, did they follow the POG model? The very fact that the supplemental budget spends more than the revenue forecast is proof enough POG wasn’t used. Legislators are still focusing on inputs (how many served), not performance outcomes (what is success). The consequence for abandoning POG is the likelihood that lawmakers will turn to tax increases or indiscriminate program reductions when it comes time to finally align state spending with the revenue forecast. Since every imaginable expenditure is a priority for someone, all spending proposals should be weighed to determine which purchases will deliver the best results, within existing revenue. The POG model does this using measurable performance outcomes and prioritized “buy” lists of activities ranked high, medium or low. Offsets and tradeoffs are made.
Second, what is a “surplus”? According to state officials, a surplus is all the money available to the state that is in excess of current expenditures. This may sound reasonable, but it’s the equivalent of you or me saying that we have a surplus of funds because the money in our savings accounts added to our salary exceeds what we want to spend. This simply isn’t sound budgeting. A real surplus is generated when the state’s revenue forecast exceeds planned expenditures for a particular fiscal period. Prior to the supplemental budget being adopted, the state’s real surplus was approximately $500 million, not $1.5 billion. This is based on the $26.4 billion revenue forecast minus $25.9 billion in original expenditures. The remaining $1 billion are one-time funds. This money should have been set aside in a protected emergency reserve to address the next earthquake or volcanic eruption.
Third, what is the voter-approved I-601 spending limit? I-601 was adopted by the voters in 1993 to rein in the growth of state spending and taxes. Last November the state’s Expenditure Limit Committee, as a result of the “adjustments” Democrats made in 2005, adopted a “revised” I-601 limit to allow $26.1 billion in spending for the current biennium. This means the supplemental
Now what? The necessary tools for legislators to build responsible budgets are now available, except for a real spending limit. Lawmakers have a non-partisan revenue forecast, the POG budget model and performance audits. Missing is the commitment to use them. Republican or Democrat, voters should insist legislators restore the original taxpayer protections of I-601 and become informed about POG and commit to using it. Perhaps voters will be able to help instill this commitment as we head into the next election cycle.
Doh, continued from page 1 . . . Milhouse: Well, remember when the last administration decided to invest in our nation’s children? Big mistake. Aide: The balanced breakfast program just created a generation of ultra-strong supercriminals. Milhouse: And midnight basketball taught them to function without sleep. Lisa: What about my pledge to build the world’s largest bookmobile? Isn’t there any money left for that? Aide: No, and we’ve borrowed from every country in the world. Later in the episode… Lisa: If I’m going to bail the country out, I’ll have to raise taxes, but in my speech I’d like to avoid calling it a “painful emergency tax.” Milhouse: What about “colossal salary grab?” Lisa: See, that has the same problem. We need to soften the blow. Milhouse: Well, if you just want to out-and-out lie ... [Lisa doesn’t object] Okay, we could call it a “temporary refund adjustment.” Lisa: I love it. Since fact is often stranger than fiction, it isn’t hard to envision the following hypothetical exchange this session between Democrat budget writers in the House and Senate: Representative: As you know, we have a large surplus this year with which to expand the size of government. Only problem, we can’t legally spend it. Senator: What do you mean we can’t legally spend it?
Representative: Well, the people didn’t take too kindly to our massive “temporary refund adjustment” in 1993, remember? So they passed I-601 to try to slow down the growth of state spending and tax increases. Senator: Right, I-601…. That caused a little problem for us last year, too, but we pulled off an end-run and got another billion anyway. How much more do we need this year? Representative: Another billon or two should take care of all these demands we have from our friends. But, this is an election year, and we have to be careful not to upset too many voters. Senator: Let’s try this. Create new “reserve” accounts and call the appropriations to these accounts “savings.” Then we can go ahead and decide to spend the money, but wait until next year to do it. Representative: Brilliant! That way voters won’t really know that we’re ignoring I-601. They probably won’t even know we’re about to approve the largest spending increase in state history. They’ll applaud us for “saving.” Senator: Just to be safe, we need to prohibit a voter referendum on our “savings scheme.” An emergency clause should do the trick. Remember, it’s for the children after all. Representative: Right, the children. In the words of Homer Simpson, the 2006 session can be summed up nicely, “Doh!” Based on the legislature’s lack of fiscal discipline this year, next session may well be summed up as, “More of your dough!”
EFF press conference highlights need for continuing election reform by Victor Joecks
“Voters in every political party are disenfranchised by ballots cast illegally by people who have no right to vote.”
efore a gallery of television cameras and reporters, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) and the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) held a press conference on election reform on Wednesday, February 22, 2006. The press conference, held on the capitol steps, informed citizens about election reform efforts, reviewed Secretary of State Sam Reed’s performance, and unveiled Grassroots Washington as a new organization. EFF President Bob Williams, BIAW spokeswoman Erin Shannon, and Rep. Toby Nixon all spoke about the need for integrity in the election process. Even with the new voter registration database “voters in every political party are disenfranchised by ballots cast illegally by people who have no right to vote,” said Williams. At the conference, EFF released a “Sam Reed report card” grading the Secretary’s job performance. He received failing marks in leadership, administration, and fighting electoral fraud. But Reed received passing grades in personal image and counting double, felon, non-citizen, and deceased voters. BIAW spokeswoman Erin Shannon related one instance of Secretary Reed’s double talk. The BIAW offered to help Secretary Reed weed out duplicate voters from the
new voter registration database, but he said “that it was an easy task and no help was needed.” Once he found out about the EFF press conference, he emailed Bob Williams to say “this is a huge project…it is going to take considerable time to work through all the needed corrections.” EFF also announced the formation of Grassroots Washington (GW), a 501 (c)4 organization. GW intends to run an initiative on election reform, because, as Rep. Toby Nixon said, “The legislature has failed to enact meaningful reform.” A poll taken by GW revealed that “comprehensive election reform to eliminate voting fraud” is one of the most important issues to Washington voters. The press conference generated significant media interest. KOMO 4 News and KIRO 7 News aired reports. EFF was invited by four talk radio stations to discuss the need for comprehensive reform, garnering over 60 minutes of airtime. In addition, the AP published an article and numerous state newspapers ran articles, including the Seattle Times and Seattle PI. For more information about the press conference (including a video of the event) or the Voter Integrity Project, please visit www.effwa.org/vip/.
Election reform continued from page 4 . . . King County’s misinterpretation of that law have made challenges unnecessarily difficult. For example, if Voter A received multiple ballots at her home for Voters B and C, who do not resided there, Voter A could not file a voter challenge unless she could prove where Voters B and C actually lived. Such registration errors are usually the fault of the county elections department, but if counties refuse to fix them (as King County often has), voters must have an opportunity to file a challenge. When first filed, SB 6362 contained numerous problems including unnecessary politicizing of voter challenges. Representative Toby Nixon (R-45th District) amended the bill to fix the problems. Apart from moving the primary and clarifying voter challenges, the legislative leadership mostly ignored the other necessary changes that were introduced; most notably Senate Bills 6499, 6333 and 6317, which required photo ID at the polls and/or proof of citizenship for registration. None of these bills even received a hearing. Related bills that should be revisited next year include the following: • House Bill 2525, which would have restricted possible special elections from four to two times a year, and clarified that bond and levy elections are not emergencies.
This change would have done much to simplify elections processing and reduce the workload of election officials. • House Bill 2518, which would require a re-vote if the margin of victory in an election is smaller than the margin of error. • House Bill 2528, which would only allow a voter to cast a provisional ballot in his correct precinct, eliminating the fraud opportunity of voting provisional ballots in multiple precincts. • House Bill 2523, which would require random audits of the signature verification process. • Senate Bill 6498, which would correct many of the faulty rules issued earlier this year by Secretary of State Reed, such as allowing provisional and absentee ballots to be counted simultaneously, thus raising the possibility of double votes being counted. The ray of hope is the diligence of many legislators and citizens who have not forgotten the 2004 elections and who do not believe the problems are solved. This fact gives us great hope for eventual victory as we continue to fight for real election reform.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Washington Supreme Court “turns the First Amendment on its head”
Victory in court for taxpayers! by Jason Mercier
n March 16, 2006, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled on two cases against the Washington Education Association (WEA) involving the union’s use of dues for political activity. Astonishingly, the court has ruled that the WEA’s statutory right to collect and spend dues trumps teachers’ constitutional rights to free speech! These cases started from a complaint the Evergreen Freedom Foundation filed against the WEA in 2000, involving the WEA’s use of non-member dues for political activity. In school districts where the WEA represents teachers, the union can, by law, compel teachers to pay for the cost of collective bargaining. The U.S. Constitution, however, guarantees that teachers who do not want to associate with the union can decline membership. As a result, these non-members must pay a fee for the union’s representation (known as an “agency fee”), but can obtain a refund of the portion of their dues used for politics and lobbying. This right was confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court case Chicago Teachers Union v. Hudson. While the Hudson case provides for an “opt-out” procedure where teachers can get a refund of political expenditures, most teachers are not informed of their rights. Furthermore, requesting a refund can be a complex and expensive process. The union stipulates how much money it will refund. The union dictates the window of time for teachers to request the refund. If teachers want to challenge the union’s calculation, they have to take a day off of work and cover the cost of legal
In August 2000, EFF filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission alleging that the WEA was using non-member dues for political purposes. The WEA admitted to multiple violations of the law, and the PDC turned the case over to Democrat Attorney General Christine Gregoire. The Attorney General’s Office sued the WEA in 2001 for its admitted violations and a Thurston County Superior Court judge imposed a $590,375 penalty on the union. In the meantime, EFF and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all non-member teachers in order to recover a refund of the dues the WEA had spent illegally. During trial court arguments, WEA attorneys argued that the union owes “no common law fiduciary duty” to the teachers it represents! The WEA appealed the 2001 ruling, and in 2003 the Court of Appeals held that the law the WEA had admitted to violating was unconstitutional because it “unduly burdens unions.” In other words, the rights of union officials supersede the First Amendment free speech rights of teachers. The Court of Appeals also dismissed the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of teachers. The Attorney General and the teachers involved in the class action appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, where we argued the case in May 2004. Nearly twenty-two months passed with no word from the Supreme Court. Then on March 16, the Court issued a 6-3 decision. The majority decision, written by Justice
“Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna announced March 23 he will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. He made the announcement after receiving a unanimous recommendation to appeal from the Public Disclosure Commission.” representation. One teacher we worked with went to the arbitration hearing and was given a 12-inch stack of materials to review an hour before the hearing was to begin. Talk about a kangaroo court! The Hudson process is a minimum threshold; it does not prevent states from adopting additional protections for employees. The state of Washington did just that when voters approved Initiative 134 in 1992. One of the provisions of the law states: “A labor organization may not use agency shop fees paid by an individual who is not a member of the organization to make contributions or expenditures to influence an election or to operate a political committee, unless affirmatively authorized by the individual.” I-134 created an “opt-in” procedure where teachers must affirmatively authorize the union’s use of their dues for political purposes. This guarantees that no dues will be used for political activities against the teacher’s will. Unfortunately, the WEA simply ignored the law and continued to spend dues on politics without asking for permission.
Faith Ireland, who retired 15 months ago, affirmed the Court of Appeals decision and declared the law unconstitutional. The majority focused on the union’s right to associate: “The first and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution protect the freedom of an individual to associate for the purpose of advancing beliefs and ideas. The practice of persons banding together to make their political voices heard is deeply embedded in the American political process.” The Court discussed the burden the WEA would bear if it was required to get express permission from non-members to spend their dues. “The weight of the administrative burden on the union is an important consideration in resolving the balance of member and nonmember First Amendment rights,” wrote Justice Ireland. “Dissenters may not silence the majority by the creation of too heavy an administrative burden.” Justice Richard Sanders wrote a scathing dissent to Justice Ireland’s opinion. He pointed out that legislatures Continued on next page
n March 17, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge James Allendoerfer ruled the Democrat’s 2005-07 budget exceeds the I-601 spending limit. This is a clear victory for taxpayers! His ruling highlighted email exchanges between state budget writers who were trading ideas on ways to exceed the limit. The state tried to prevent those emails from becoming public. The result of this ruling is that tax increases enacted in HB 2314 (cigarette, alcohol, sales warranties) are not in effect. They must first be put before a vote of the people, as required by I-601. The challenge to the tax increases was brought by EFF member Steve Neighbors. He was joined by the Washington Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the Washington State Grange, the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, and the Washington Association of REALTORS®. We argued that the legislature artificially manipulated the spending limit through shifting $250 million between three state accounts. The state tried to argue that these fund shifts actually had the effect of increasing the I601 spending limit. Judge Allendoerfer ruled, however, that the $250 million in fund shifts didn’t increase the spending limit, and he ordered the limit lowered by $250 million. Emails between state budget writers indicated they knew the budget they were about to adopt exceeded the 601 limit. To avoid a vote of the people on the proposed tax increases, they decided to shift funds back and forth to artificially increase their spending capacity. Thankfully, the judge didn’t accept this budget gimmickry as honoring the intent or spirit of I-601. During the course of the lawsuit, the state claimed that communications between state officials about the $250 million in fund shifts were subject to legislative and executive privilege and, therefore, not subject to disclosure. Based on what just some of the emails contained, it’s no wonder the state didn’t want the public to see them! Consider the following pull quotes: • “I remain confident that staff will be able to provide members with options to increase the limit pretty significantly—all without amending the expenditure limit statute.” • “…before we begin our attack on the limit. And of course, transfers in 2005 give us the magic ‘three fer.’” • “… the ‘2 way street’ provisions of 601 allow almost unlimited changes to the limit. We are simply assuming that we move money in and out of the general fund in a way to assure that the limit is high enough to support this budget.” State officials will be tempted to ask the Attorney General to appeal their loss, but it seems to be a bad message to send taxpayers in an election year. Essentially they’d be saying they have a right to purposely game the spending limit with the sole purpose to deny taxpayers their right to approve taxes in excess of the I-601 limit. This huge victory for taxpayers provides legislators with two options: 1) Honor I-601, or 2) Repeal it. Judge Allendoerfer made it clear that state officials’ disingenuous budget gimmicks do not stand up in the light of day. EFF will continue to fight for the law to be enforced, but it is important to pause first to thank those whose support made this victory possible, beginning with Steve Neighbors.
Washington union membership rate drops for second year in a row by Michael Reitz
nion membership rates in Washington have dropped for the second year in a row, according to a report recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union membership fell to 19.1 percent of workers, down from 19.3 percent in 2004, and 19.7 percent in 2003. This decline in market share occurred despite aggressive union efforts to force membership on state employees and organize new sectors of the workforce. This trend was also reflected throughout the Northwest region: union membership rates dropped in Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, national union membership rates dropped slightly, to just under 12.5 percent. While unions added new members, they failed to keep pace with the growth in new jobs. In fact, unions captured less than 10 percent of the 2.3 million new jobs nationwide. Some union officials hailed 2005’s all-time low with optimism. AFL-CIO president John Sweeney was “pleased,” citing the increase of 213,000 union members in the last year. “In a political climate that’s hostile to workers’ rights, these numbers illustrate the extraordinary will of workers to gain a voice on the job despite enormous obstacles,” he said. Other officials were more restrained. “The good news is that the annual hemorrhaging of union membership slowed last year. And that’s not really good news,” said Teamster president James Hoffa.
Significantly, the one sector enjoying healthy growth in union membership is among government employees. While union density in private industries is low (only 7.8 percent of workers), government workers are heavily unionized at 36.5 percent. Free-market advocates see this as a problem, as more state and local governments are ceding their policymaking authority to the collective bargaining process.
“Union officials know, however, that free choice is the iceberg they can’t survive.” Public employee unions, acting in their own interest, drive up the scope, cost and size of government. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report also examined demographic trends in union membership, the findings of which are particularly alarming for union officials. Union members are aging rapidly and are not replacing themselves in equal numbers. The age group with the highest rate of growth among union members is 65 years and older. Young workers are far less likely than any other age category to be unionized. In 2005, only
4.6 percent of workers ages 16-24 were unionized, with 10.7 percent of workers ages 25-34. This can be blamed on labor’s inability to adapt to today’s economy. Union officials are still making calls from a 50-year-old playbook. Organized labor’s crisis will continue so long as it spends hundreds of millions in member dues on political activity and uses heavyhanded organizing tactics. For example, Washington public sector unions recently negotiated collective bargaining agreements on behalf of state employees. These contracts included a provision requiring workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. According to a recent survey conducted by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, 69 percent of state employees said they joined the union simply to avoid getting fired. Public employee unions immediately increased their membership, but aroused the considerable ire of state workers who had no intention of joining. Last year, the AFL-CIO experienced a massive split when a group of dissident union leaders left the national federation. The highly-publicized split centered on the question of how to reverse organized labor’s shrinking numbers. But is this strategy working? For years, union membership has been kept afloat by coercion. The AFL-CIO split may be little more than union officials rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Imagine the reality if workers had a choice about paying union dues! Union officials know, however, that free choice is the iceberg they can’t survive.
Supreme Court continued from page 7 . . . give unions a statutory right to collect dues in the first place, and that teachers have a Constitutional right to refuse payment of political contributions. Many “rightto-work” states prohibit the collection of agency fees. If the state can grant unions the right to collect dues, surely it can regulate how the union collects dues by requiring affirmative authorization! As Justice Sanders wrote: “The majority turns the First Amendment on its head. Unions have a statutory, not constitutional, right to cause employers not only to withhold and remit membership dues but also to withhold and remit fees from nonmembers in an equivalent amount. … Given that the legislature could constitutionally repeal the whole statutory scheme allowing withholding in the first place, I find it nearly beyond comprehension to claim that the legislature, or the people acting through their sovereign right of initiative, could not qualify these statutes to ensure their constitutional application.” Justice Sanders rightfully pointed out the absurdity of the majority’s assumption that non-members want their dues used for politics: “This argument’s flaw is at its foundation: association is a two way street requiring a mutual desire to associate by all concerned. But here nonunion employees have elected not to associate. This does not violate the associated rights of the union or its members since it had no constitutional right to compel membership much less monetary support from nonmembers in the first place.” Bottom line, the majority decision strikes a terrible blow to the rights of employees in the state of Washington. Protecting the union from an “administrative burden” is more important than protecting the free speech rights of non-members! While we are extremely disappointed with this recent decision, it is not the end of the road. Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna announced March 23 he will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. He made the announcement after receiving a unanimous recommendation to appeal from the Public Disclosure Commission. We applaud their willingness to defend the constitutionality of the law and we plan to file a “friend of the court” brief in support of the appeal.
state workers rally across the street from the Washington Federation of State Employees on March 15, to protest Washington’s new forced-dues employment contracts. The rally was organized by FreeConscience.org. The newly-implemented collective bargaining agreement allows public sector unions to collect dues from almost every state worker or face termination. Several long-time state workers have already been fired. Assisted by pro bono public interest attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, some of the fired state employees are filing suit against WFSE and the state of Washington for violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights as set forward in the U.S. Supreme Court’s famous Hudson case. Hudson, among other things, requires unions to give adequate advance notice of union fees (including an independent audit) and a prompt and impartial review of nonmember challenges. EFF’s Labor Policy Center has worked earnestly for several years with members of FreeConscience.org to expose the Federation’s heavy-handed tactics, and we appreciate the NRTW Foundation’s participation in the struggle.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
WEA’s “Take the Lead” campaign misleads by Marsha Richards
he Washington Education Association (WEA) has mounted a “long-term, statewide campaign to permanently increase funding for public education.” The campaign laments what the union describes as a “steady and widespread decline in education funding [that has] put our schools far behind most other states in the country in the areas that hurt most.” The union makes many claims to support its demands for more public education funding, almost all of which are, unfortunately, disingenuous and misleading. The union’s “facts” become downright harmful when used as the basis for state policy decisions that impact education spending and student achievement. A moment’s consideration shows us the WEA’s campaign is without substance. Consider two of the union’s laments (which have been featured in recent television ads):
“Washington ranks 46th in the nation in class size.” The WEA’s own national affiliate admits that “no state-by-state actual class size information exists.”
Public Schools by Marsha Richards For many of your questions …
• How much does our state spend on K-12 public schools? • How much do teachers earn? • What’s the student/teacher ratio? • How are our schools performing? • How many kids graduate from high school on time? • Has spending increased or decreased? We’ve got answers … 1. There are 966,371 students enrolled in Washington’s K-12 schools. 2. The state spent an average of $10,103 per student in 2004-05.
Rankings are interesting, but they’re meaningless without baselines. Ranking “high” or “low” doesn’t answer the real question: What is Washington’s average class size? The WEA’s own national affiliate admits that “no state-by-state actual class size information exists.” The WEA’s ranking is based on student/teacher ratios, which is the number of students enrolled for each teacher hired. In Washington, the legislature allocates funding for a student/teacher ratio of 18.8 to one. According to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, the state actually employs enough teachers for a student/teacher ratio of 17.9 to one. (The highest ranked states in the nation have a ratio of 21.4 students to one, which isn’t exactly shockingly high.) Since students are not distributed evenly among teachers (i.e., a high school Advanced Placement teacher may have five or six students while a band teacher may have 40 or 50), many teachers may have classes larger than 18 or 19 students. That said, while class sizes are certainly important, they are only meaningful in context with the factors that matter most in student learning: quality and experience of the teacher, subject matter, school leadership, classroom discipline, and parental involvement. Some teachers can handle larger classes with less difficulty; some subjects require more intensive interaction than others; some students learn with more ease than others. That is why class sizes should be determined by local teachers and administrators, not blindly mandated at the state level or in competition with other states as the WEA’s dramatic claims would lead us to believe.
3. The state employs the full-time equivalent of 53,117 classroom teachers. 4. A total of 158,035 people get paychecks from the K-12 system. 5. The average teacher in Washington earns salary and benefits worth $64,454. The average base salary (without benefits) is $45,728. 6. Beginning teachers in Washington earn $30,083. 7. The state legislature allocates funding for a student/teacher ratio of 18.8 to one. The actual student/teacher ratio in our state is 17.9 to one. 8. At current spending levels, the annual cost for a class of 20 students is $202,060.
“Washington ranks 42nd in the nation in education spending.” How much is Washington spending per pupil? And how much is enough?
9. Using data from the most recent U.S. Census, our K-12 schools spend the equivalent of $1,681 per year for every man, woman and child in the state, and $4,362 for every household (which averages two or three people). 10. General fund per-pupil education spending (which does not include the cost of school construction) has increased an inflationadjusted 14.5 percent over the last decade. 11. The state spends 42.1 percent of its general fund for K-12 public schools.
Again, rankings are interesting, but they don’t tell us much without baselines. The important questions are: How much is Washington spending per-pupil, and how much is enough? According to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Washington spent an average of $10,103 per K-12 student last year. That’s a lot of money. Is it enough to do the job? It’s hard to answer that question without meaningful performance audits of our K-12 schools, but it’s interesting to note that public school spending rivals the tuition at some of our state’s elite private schools. WEA officials defeat their own argument by pointing out in their ads that Washington spends less than even Alabama and Arkansas (apparently this is supposed to shame us). Yet despite their higher spending, student test scores in both of those states are abysmally low. It is well documented that simply spending more on education doesn’t translate into higher student achievement. Of course it costs money to provide a quality education, but how we spend money is just as important as how much. The point is not to blindly spend more, but to spend the right amount as efficiently and effectively as possible.
12. The on-time high school graduation rate in our state was 70 percent for the latest year in which data is available (2003-04). 13. A total of 404 schools and 87 school districts failed to meet state-defined and federally mandated academic standards last year. 14. There are 2,212 schools in 296 school districts around the state. 15. A total of 45.1 percent of the state’s 4th graders passed all three subjects (reading, writing and math) on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) in 2005. Among 7th graders, 41.1 percent passed all three subjects; among 10th graders, 42.3 percent.
EFF policy recommendations show up in 2006 bills by Jason Mercier
hirty bills were introduced during the 2006 legislative session reflecting the recommendations of EFF’s Economic Policy Center (EPC). Two crossed the finish line. Of the 30 introduced, 57 percent received a public hearing with 20 percent being approved by either the House or Senate. Ultimately, two were adopted by the legislature: HB 1069 (performance audits for tax incentives) and HB 2507 (prohibiting use of false academic degrees). We do not write bills and lobby them through the process. We write concept language and model legislation to illustrate to lawmakers what our ideas would look like if transferred from paper to practice. Some of the bills listed below originated from
lawmakers who agree with us that individual liberty and the free market are powerful when unleashed. Bills receiving vote in the House: • HB 1069 – Performance audits for tax incentives (Roll Call: 61-34) • HB 1276 – Requiring governor’s signature on significant agency rules (Roll Call: 93-3) • HB 1834 – Using performance measures for budgeting decisions (Roll Call: 97-0) • HB 2507 – Prohibiting use of false academic degrees (Roll Call: 98-0) • HB 3109 – Addressing government performance and accountability (Roll Call: 96-0)
Bills receiving vote in the Senate: • HB 1069 – Performance audits for tax incentives (Roll Call: 33-15) • HB 2507 – Prohibiting use of false academic degrees (Roll Call: 49-0) • SB 5527 – Prohibiting automatic fee increases (Roll Call: 40-1) Among the notable EPC-related bills introduced, but not voted on this session: • HB 1909 – Creating the Office of Inspector General • HB 2524 – Regarding performance and outcome measure reviews • HB 3005 – Requiring a Priorities of Government approach to developing the budget • HJR 4216 – Requiring a two-thirds vote on emergency clauses • SB 6489 – Requiring school districts to provide or pay for remedial postsecondary education
Updating Washington’s Voter Registration Roll T by Jonathan Bechtle
he new statewide voter database was unveiled to the public recently, and it was sold as the principal solution to our election-related problems. If only it were so. Some flaws and errors are to be expected, but we have uncovered many significant problems with the new statewide voter registration database. We have turned these findings over to the Secretary of State’s office. At the beginning of March, we found more than 25,000 registrations with serious data errors and 21,000 duplicate registrations in addition to the 32,000 found by the Secretary of State. This included two active registrations for former governor Gary Locke—one still at the governor’s mansion in Thurston County. Here’s the reality: The statewide voter registration database can maintain a clean system, but it cannot create one. Only a registration update by all voters with proof of citizenship and their full legal name will create a clean voter roll. To help our members and the public better understand how a registration update would work, we published a four-page “Question and Answers,” excerpts of which are reprinted below. The full piece is available on our website, at www.effwa.org/vip.
Question: Hasn’t the new statewide voter database made a registration update unnecessary? Answer: No! Thousands of non-citizens have been grandfathered into the new system. Database administrators will not be able to remove these, since there are no methods for identifying non-citizens. Also, the failure to require a voter to register in his or her legal name makes identification of all duplicate registrations and felons in the database extremely difficult. Question: How much would a registration update cost? Answer: We don’t know, but voting is one of the few universally recognized core functions of government. As such, it should be one of the highest spending priorities of local, state, and federal government. While it is impossible at this writing to say exactly how much a registration update would cost, there are some tangible expenses: extra hours from election officials, extra mailings of notices to voters, and the extra paperwork involved in verifying and filing proof of citizenship documents. These costs, however, must be compared with the cost of not fixing the election process. The 2004 gubernatorial election contest cost the Secretary of State at least a quarter million dollars in legal and related fees. In addition, county auditors spent untold thousands of dollars in resources and staff time on the work generated by the contest. Beyond this cost to taxpayers, the contest cost the parties themselves at least $4.7 million. The cost of voters losing faith in our election process is immeasurable.
Question: Is a registration update legal? Answer: Yes. A federal law, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), imposes restrictions on when and why an election official can cancel a person’s voter registration. The bottom line is that a person’s voter registration cannot be canceled unless the voter dies, moves outside the jurisdiction, or otherwise becomes an ineligible voter. The NVRA also limits a state’s ability to run a voter roll clean-up program. Such programs must fit within certain parameters and sufficient notice must be given to voters. A registration update, however, does not involve any immediate cancellations of voter registrations. Instead, it would give voters a lengthy time period for updating their registration. Voters who failed to do so would be moved to an inactive voter status, but they could still vote provisional ballots that would be counted if the voters submitted proof of citizenship. After being taken off active status, if a voter did not attempt to vote or contact his local auditor to re-activate registration before two federal general elections had passed, the NVRA would allow the registration to be cancelled. EFF secured a verbal opinion from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice that this process would not violate the NVRA. Question: Will a registration update disenfranchise voters? Answer: No, it will keep voters from being disenfranchised. Every time an illegal vote is counted, a legal voter is disenfranchised. At least 2,271 legal voters were disenfranchised in the 2004 election by illegal votes and unlawfully rejected ballots. A registration update will inactivate (and eventually remove) the vast majority of duplicate registrations, non-citizens, and many other categories of ineligible voters. This clean-up will drastically reduce the rate of double-voting, as approximately 1 in 100 voters who receive two ballots will vote both of them. A clean voter roll will protect the legal votes of lowincome families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 21 percent of families who make less than $25,000 annually will change residences in a year, in contrast to only 12 percent of families who make more than $60,000 annually. In other words, the poor move far more often
than other voters; making the poor more likely to be victims of voter fraud or inaccurate voter rolls. By cleaning the rolls, reducing duplicate registrations, and weeding out inaccurate information, disenfranchisement of the poor becomes much less likely. Question: What will prevent the voter rolls from becoming inaccurate again after the update? Answer: A properly functioning statewide voter database. It is important to remember, however, that the database is merely a tool. It will only work as intended when state and local election officials start making the security of our ballots a priority. Voting is not an “honor system,” as some have claimed; it is a right that must be vigorously protected. Question: Is the purpose of a registration update to discriminate against immigrants? Answer: No. The Washington State Constitution says in Article VI, Section I that “all persons…who are citizens of the United States…shall be entitled to vote.” Only eligible voters should be allowed to register to vote. Noncitizens are only one of the categories of ineligible voters, but unlike the other categories, our elected leaders have taken no action to identify and remove them from the voting roll. Thus, a registration update should specifically address this category of ineligible registrants. Those who care most about this issue are legal immigrants who have worked hard to attain citizenship. As Rose Gunderson, a businesswoman from rural Thurston County who emigrated from Hong Kong, said, “If we don’t even attempt to [require proof of citizenship], I have no confidence in the system.” Question: Would a registration update be too difficult for county auditors to accomplish? Answer: No. As mentioned above, the election contest over the 2004 gubernatorial race ate up huge amounts of auditor hours and resources. King County has undergone five audits/investigations of its procedures in the past year, and its problems are certainly not fixed yet. The difficulty level must be viewed in the context of continuing fraud—and mistake-ridden elections. Continued on next page
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
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The update could stretch over a year or two, giving voters and auditors time to complete the task. Keep in mind, though, the Iraqi election commission (made up of Iraqi citizens) managed to register 14.3 million Iraqi voters in six weeks, all of whom had to prove identity and citizenship in order to register. It seems hard to imagine that Washington election officials can’t register one-fifth that number of voters in two years! Question: How would someone prove citizenship? Answer: Many types of documents can be used to prove citizenship. The most common are birth certificates, passports, naturalization papers, and Indian tribal cards, but others can also be used. For example, federal law allows someone without a birth certificate to apply for a passport by using an early school record, a census record, or a baptismal certificate in conjunction with a “letter of no record” from their birth state. Similar exceptions could be made for voters. For voters born in Washington state, the state department of health has birth certificates from 1907; county auditors
have them from decades earlier. A requirement for proof of citizenship should be written in such a way as to ensure any citizen wishing to register to vote could do so. Question: Is there really a problem with non-citizens voting? Answer: Yes, but the full extent of the problem is difficult to determine. Since January 1, 1995, anyone receiving a driver’s license or welfare benefits in Washington state has been asked if they would like to register to vote. Licenses and benefits are given to non-citizens in our state, so for eleven years these ineligible voters have been registering to vote, sometimes unknowingly. The form has a checkbox asking if the registrant is a citizen, but evidence has shown that many states, including Washington, have often accepted registration forms even if the box is not checked. Sharing a border with Canada makes Washington state especially vulnerable to this problem. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has conducted several reviews of immigrants and voters. If the immigrant registration rate in Washington state is comparable to that found in the INS reviews, which is likely given our population’s international make-up, we could have approximately 75,000 registered non-citizens.
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2006 POLICY CONFERENCE & 15th Anniversary Gala
JUNE JU U 1,, 2006 1 When: June 1, 2006 Whe Conference: 8:15 AM - 5:00 PM Conf Gala: a: 5:45 Reception; 6:45 Dinner Where: Doubletree Guest Suites Seattle-Southcenter, WA Theme: Freedom Matters Gala Guest Speaker: John Stossel Visit
for more information
The Inescapable Facts on Public Education by John Stossel
eachers unions are mad at me. The New York State United Teachers demands I apologize for my “gutter level” journalism, “an irresponsible assault on public school students and teachers.” This is because I hosted an ABC News TV special titled “Stupid in America,” which pointed out: • American fourth graders do well on international tests, but by high school, Americans have fallen behind kids in most other countries. • The constant refrain that “public schools need more money” is nonsense. Many countries that spend significantly less on education do better than we do. School spending in America (adjusted for inflation) has more than tripled over the past 30 years, but national test scores are flat. The average per-pupil cost today is an astonishing $10,000 per student—$200,000 per classroom! Think about how many teachers you could hire, and how much better you could do with that amount of money. • Most American parents give their kids’ schools an A or B grade, but that’s only because, without market competition, they don’t know what they might have had. The educators who conduct the international tests say that most of the countries that do best are those that give school managers autonomy, and give parents and students the right to choose their schools. Competition forces private and public schools to improve. • There is little K-12 education competition in America because public schools are a government monopoly. Monopolies rarely innovate, and union-dominated monopolies, burdened with contracts filled with a hundred pages of suffocating rules, are worse. The head of New York City’s schools told me that the union’s rules “reward mediocrity.” All that angered the unions. But when they criticize my “bias and ignorance,” I don’t hear them refute the points listed above. They don’t refute them because they
With Special Guest: John Stossel
can’t. It’s just a fact that rules that insist an energetic, hard-working teacher who makes learning fun must be paid exactly the same as a lazy, incompetent teacher are rules that promote mediocrity. Ironically, before I did “Stupid in America,” the New York teachers union wanted to give me an award. The United Federation of Teachers’ Social Studies Conference wrote: “Our organization, ATSS/UFT, would be proud to present you with the Hubert H. Humphrey Humanitarian Award for the outstanding work which you have done for social causes. ... Your development and generous sponsorship of In the Classroom Media To view John Stossel’s website go to: www.abcnews.go.com/2020/ABCNEWSSpecial/
JOHN STOSSEL is a bestselling author, award-winning news correspondent and coanchor of ABC’s 20/20 program. The Orlando Sentinel says he “has the gift for entertaining while saying something profound.” Stossel has recieved 19 Emmy Awards. “Liberty is what made America great, yet little by little, Americans are giving up that liberty,” says Stossel.
provide students with the opportunity to enhance their civics education. This is the highest award that we can give to an individual. Past honorees have included Mario Cuomo, Shirley Chisholm, Charles Schumer, Dolores Huerta, Major Owens, Charles Rangel ...” Wow! Chuck Schumer, Charlie Rangel and me! Alas, after my education special aired, they decided not to give me the award. Apparently my work with In the Classroom Media—which provides teachers with videos about the free market—only helps kids as long as I stay away from the “social cause” most relevant to them: their education. Instead, teachers’ unions announced that Wednesday (3/8), they will hold demonstrations against me and ABC in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, and elsewhere. One police permit suggests the crowd outside my office will number 750-1,000 people. It should be interesting. “We want to make sure that ABC hears the voices of incredibly hard-working teachers,” says the union website, quoting New York City’s UFT President Randi Weingarten. “The network needs to hear how unfair and biased those of you in the trenches believe their broadcast to have been.” I’m sorry that union teachers are mad at me. But when it comes to the union-dominated monopoly, the facts are inescapable. Many kids are miserable in bad schools. If they are not rich enough to move, or to pay for private school, they are trapped. It doesn’t have to be that way. We know what works: choice. That’s what’s brought Americans better computers, phones, movies, music, supermarkets— most everything we have. Schoolchildren deserve the joyous benefits of market competition too. Unions say, “education of the children is too important to be left to the vagaries of the market.” The opposite is true. Education is too important to be left to the calcified union/government monopoly.