BUDGET TRANSPARENCY A CLICK AWAY 5
REPEALING AMERICA’S “BIRTH TAX” 7
A CONVENIENCE PUBLICATION OF THE TRUMPS EVERGREEN SECURITY FREEDOM FOUNDATION AGAIN
LIVING LIBERTY JANUARY 2007
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
FOR IMPACTING YOUR LEGISLATORS by Jonathan Bechtle, J.D.
o you feel well represented by your state legislators? In your opinion, is Washington headed in the right direction? All of us have answers to these questions, but most of us are hard-pressed to find time to let our legislators know what we think. Usually we’re stopped by two mental roadblocks: (1) we don’t think we know enough about an issue to comment on it, and (2) we think we have to host a rally or some other big event to have any impact. Most legislators, however, want to hear from their constituents, and can often be greatly influenced without great effort. With the 2007 legislative session starting on January 8, we would urge you to contact your representatives and senators during the next few months about issues that concern you. Your legislators are being influenced by someone, and if it’s not you, chances are it’s someone who opposes your views. We’ve put together some suggestions on how to get past your mental roadblocks. Becoming informed on the issues • You don’t have to be an expert—personal stories can have the greatest impact. Legislators can find experts to debate the philosophy of an issue, but they need your personal stories to show a need for change. • Use websites like www.washingtonvotes.org and http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/ to find, read, and track legislation. You can also find legislator information at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default or by calling the Legislative Information Center at (360) 786-7573. • Read newspaper editorials and articles—you may not agree with the conclusions– but they can often alert you to what’s happening in the legislature. Communicating with your legislators • Keep your communications short—legislators are busy people, and your message may get lost if you send a ten-page letter. Just send the basics, and let them call you if they need more information. • If you want a response, contact only the legislators from your district—due to time constraints, legislators usually only have time to respond to their own constituents.
“Most legislators... want to hear from their constituents, and can often be greatly influenced without great effort.” • Just tell your story—this is worth repeating, because personal stories make such good talking points, and legislators can relate to them. • Make friends with the legislative staff—they often control the flow of information to a legislator, and can greatly affect the impact of your message. • Find out what kind of communication your legislators prefer—some like emails better, others like letters. Their staffer should be able to tell you which is best. • Don’t send form emails—while it takes a few more minutes, always write your own email on an issue, don’t use a form email. They often go right into the trash. • Visit your legislators, but prepare first—don’t wing a visit. Prepare your talking points, present them succinctly and then let the legislator ask questions. Value their time. • Attend the town hall meetings your legislators put on during session—they usually hold one in December, but many also hold one mid-session and after session ends. Call your legislator for information on dates and places. The Washington State Constitution begins with the foundational statement, “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.” EFF will be working during this session to keep government accountable and protect individual liberties. Will you join us by devoting a few minutes each day to practicing your authority as a citizen of this state?
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE
OLYMPIA, WA PERMIT #462
To subscribe, send an e-mail to Victor Joecks (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let him know you’d like to be on the list.
“You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.”
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– William J. H. Boetcker, 1916
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VOLUME 17, Issue 1 EFF’s mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.
Publisher: Booker Stallworth Editors: Lynn Harsh Victor Joecks Layout: Joel Sorrell
Evergreen Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 email@example.com • www.effwa.org
3 LETTER FROM LYNN MORE POWER THAN CHARACTER CAN SUPPORT 4 COURAGE NEEDED TO WIN THE WAR ON POVERTY VOTE BY MAIL: A BIGGER LOSER THAN CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS 5 BUDGET TRANSPARENCY A CLICK AWAY STATE SUPREME COURT HEARS SPENDING LIMIT ARGUMENTS 6 JOIN US FOR LIVE UPDATES FROM THE STEPS OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT 7 REPEALING AMERICA’S “BIRTH TAX” SONICS SUBSIDIES: PLASMA TVS BEFORE FOOD? 8 SAM REED’S AGENDA: CONVENIENCE TRUMPS SECURITY AGAIN PUBLIC SCHOOLING DIVIDES FAR AND WIDE 9 DISAPPOINTING MEDICAID ADVISORY REPORT COMPETITIVE CONTRACTING: OLYMPIA’S HOLLOW “REFORM” EDUCATION REFORM CENTER 2007—A LOT TO LOOK FORWARD TO
10 ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE INSTITUTES A PAY-FOR-PERFORMANCE SYSTEM FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ASKED... 12 EFF WELCOMES NEW EDUCATION DIRECTOR
01-10-07 Pg. 6 ORAL ARGUMENTS SET TO BEGIN.
JOIN US LIVE FROM THE STEPS OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
LetterLETTER from Lynn FROM LY NN by Lynn Harsh
More power than character can support
ome things really never change. Like the challenge we humans have when given power over others. Letters written by American and French diplomats during the Revolutionary War make it clear that leaders, bullies, heroes and reprobates were all negotiating for various outcomes, depending on what suited their particular needs. We tend to canonize the prominent public figures who lived during that time, because the results profoundly changed the world and our lives in particular. But some of those human beings had more power than their character could support and were as treacherous as warships in the open seas. American diplomats were abroad trying to secure support from France and the Netherlands to defeat the formidable British. The arms and naval support France gave to America during those years was indispensable, but highly romanticized. France was an absolute monarchy, and its elites had little reason to support upstart subjects like the American colonists—except that they hated the British. Vergennes, foreign minister appointed by King Louis XVI, was a puppet master in these negotiations. He saw to it that France supported the Americans just enough to hurt the British and engender loyalty from the colonists. Vergennes liked our esteemed Benjamin Franklin, because Franklin was malleable and generally tried to find agreement, sometimes at a very high cost. The person who often paid was the unflinching John Adams, whom Vergennes could barely tolerate. Letters from each man over the course of several years illustrate how Vergennes brokered power behind the scenes, often successfully pitting Franklin against Adams. In fairness, Vergennes had his own country’s interests to advance, and the Americans were plebes at the diplomacy business. It’s amazing anything worthwhile happened. The Dutch, in the meantime, talked admirably and openly about the American spirit of independence, especially in the pubs and streets. After all, the Pilgrims had been sheltered there for some time, and the Netherlands had forced its own independence years before. But the Dutch peoples’ first love was business, and England was an important trading partner. So, Dutch diplomats also brokered deals behind the scenes, often dismaying the unsuspecting Americans. The Dutch did not support the American cause openly until General Washington and the French fleet successfully outwitted Cornwallis and the Royal Navy. Until then it had been the quintessential, “We’re behind you…way behind you.” But, one cannot fault Dutch leaders too much, since they also were looking after the interests of their own people. America’s future as an
What teachers are saying about the U.S. Supreme Court cases Washington v.
Washington Education Association & Davenport, et al, v. Washington Education Association
Find out more at: www.teachers-vs-union.org
independent state and a profitable trading partner was uncertain. Hundreds of letters written by the American, British and other foreign diplomats illustrate plainly that the human beings who were elected or appointed to positions of authority were, in terms of character, a mixed lot. Diplomacy, like the war it tried to end, was a difficult task requiring patience, discernment and quiet courage. Some rose admirably to the job as stouthearted, persistent men, willing to serve a larger cause and time than their own. Others were full of guile and avarice and were a danger to their own country. Years of recorded history show us that diplomacy, war and governance have always been checkered with the best and worst of human nature. It is the reason our Founders structured American government so carefully—to protect us against the human tendency to abuse power. We are fairly benign when we have no power over others. But given authority, especially unchecked, we easily become bullies. Bullies operate by using raw power to intimidate others, and this can work for large numbers of people for a while. Remember Hitler. But bullies don’t usually last. People with strong character begin to feel trapped and indignant. Turmoil eventually ensues, and if it is unresolved, it turns into a revolution. Our Founders worked earnestly to give us a form of government that would avoid this eventuality. They provided the means for stability by establishing a system of government that makes it harder for bullies to gain and keep power. They made citizens the sovereigns. Through elections, the citizen sovereigns would delegate authority to people they elected from among themselves. Elected officials would serve the sovereigns for short periods of time and then go back home to live under the laws they created. It’s important to think about how this looks in everyday life. In America, we are the sovereigns, as are our neighbors, clerks in stores, business owners, teachers, truck drivers, writers, health care practitioners, etc. Sovereigns are to be served, not bullied. We short-circuit the protections in our system of government when we forget that we—the citizens—are in charge, and that we should remove leaders who bully us in word or deed. An election in America, after all, is a temporary assignment. Political power is not supposed to belong to any person because of pedigree, wealth or coercion. We have abandoned our duty as sovereigns and have elected quite a few bullies over the past four decades or so—people whose character is not strong enough to balance the temptations of power.
For example: a “secret” tape made the rounds here in Olympia almost 20 years ago. Three lawmakers were conferring with one another after a committee hearing, and they didn’t realize their words were still being recorded. Later, listeners could hear their disparaging descriptions about the average, unintelligent citizens they were forced to deal with (my paraphrase). These legislators, powerful leaders in their caucus, described how they would have to go around the peoples’ will, since the people didn’t have a clue about what was good for them (again, my paraphrase). Two of those three people regularly behaved like bullies, and they are now out of public office. But they did a lot of damage while there. Consider lawmakers and judges who believe it is their right to take one person’s property and give it to another. Or lawmakers who consider it acceptable to play games to get around laws put in place by voters, such as our state’s spending ceiling. Or lawmakers who pick the economy’s winners and losers through selective tax breaks and regulations, such as the Boeing contract several years ago. And what about the letter sent last October by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe, threatening oil executives to believe what the senators did regarding global warming or face consequences similar to those forced on the tobacco industry? The senators did not use the power of their office to compel a discussion or debate on the facts. They did not use known facts to hold these executives accountable for policy their industry supported using known error. Instead, they used the raw power of their office to bully—to issue thinly veiled threats bases on their own emotion over the issue. That’s how bullies behave. They cannot be bothered to earn the right to triumph on an issue. The end they want justifies the means they employ—and intimidation is a bully’s most excellent tool. Elected officials and the bureaucrats they empower have enormous power over our lives. They can reward or punish us. But we have forgotten that we can do the same in return. We can remove the source of a bully’s powers and motivation. Elections give us the opportunity to do this peaceably. We must reward policy makers who put our short and long-term interests above their own, who are willing to risk losing the power of office to act with good judgment and humility, and whose character can support the power they ask us to give them. It will take some time to do this, but we live in a country where it is possible. For this, we ought to be grateful. And we ought to get about the business of doing it.
“I hope that the Supreme Court can really examine this question because our freedoms
“The right of free speech is being
are so important to us that if
trampled on in my
we let any organization take
case, and I don’t like
them away our democracy is
that...it’s a right that I
diminished nationally...” Jeralee Smith Teacher Orange County, CA
hold very precious.” Scott Carlon Business Teacher Spokane, WA
Courage needed to win the war on poverty
by Harold Baker
espite spending billions of dollars on a myriad of social service programs over the past 40 years, the federal government has lost ground in its self-declared, protracted “War on Poverty.” In too many cases, failed programs have wasted taxpayer dollars and left participants without the tools they need to move their families into the middle class. Unfortunately, without bold leadership in this crucial area, the future looks bleak. As the demand for skilled and highly-skilled workers in our knowledge-based economy increases over time and the percentage of low-income youth and adults who lack marketable skills also increases, our nation can expect a tremendous growth in the permanent under class. To reverse this devastating trend, visionary leaders must critically examine the effectiveness and efficiency of programs designed to positively impact the lives of people living in poverty. According to the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC), a national social policy research organization whose central focus is “to identify effective strategies to help low-income youth and adults escape poverty by achieving success in the labor market,” the large percentage of low-income youth who do not complete high school or, if they do graduate, fail to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate is a disturbing trend. In the Opening Doors Project, MDRC evaluates the effectiveness of programs at six community colleges in different parts of the country. Each program uses innovative techniques and strategies designed to increase college retention and completion rates among low-income students. Early results indicate these programs are having a positive impact on the academic performance of their participants.
MDRC’s role in the Employment Retention and Advancement Project is to evaluate three training models currently being implemented across the country. Each is designed to help present and former welfare recipients and other low-income workers remain employed and move up in their jobs. In “Advancement” programs, participants utilize career counseling and other education and training services to secure better jobs. “Placement and Retention” programs focus on
“...once armed with the facts, leaders must be willing to hold organizations accountable and cut programs when necessary.” helping “hard-to-serve” participants (e.g. participants with disabilities or substance abuse issues) secure and maintain stable employment. As the name suggests, “Mixed Goal” programs improve participant job placement, retention, and advancement rates through a combination of employment skills training, individual counseling/mentoring, job coaching, and other program services.
In the Enhanced Services for the Hard to Employ Project, MDRC evaluates programs that utilize a diverse set of strategies to serve participants facing serious obstacles to employment. Long-term welfare dependency, a criminal history, undiagnosed mental health issues, and low basic skills are just a few of the obstacles that are addressed by these unique programs. Participants receive paid transitional employment opportunities, intensive case management, weekly follow-up home visits, and other services that help prepare them for stable employment and selfsufficiency. Helping participants help themselves in the shortest amount of time and at the lowest cost possible should be the primary mission of every government-funded organization that serves the poor. Through an objective, well-researched evaluation of program effectiveness and efficiency, MDRC gives key decision-makers the information needed to determine which programs fit these criteria. However, once armed with the facts, leaders must be willing to hold organizations accountable and cut programs when necessary. Unfortunately, our nation has experienced a dearth of courageous leadership in this area. As a result, taxpayers and program participants have been ill served. Moving people out of poverty and into the job market should remain a top national priority. Yet, government leaders must be willing to demand quality from social service providers. Programs that are proven to be ineffective and inefficient must lose their funding so it can be redirected to those that work.
Vote-by-mail: a bigger loser than Congressional Republicans
by Victor Joecks
emember “New Coke?” All the experts agreed it This lack of control allows ample opportunity for was the wave of the future. It would taste better ballots to be stolen, altered, or destroyed, both before and outsell Pepsi forever. ballots are delivered and after. Even if a voter receives Everything was perfectly planned, except none of it his ballot intact, the secrecy of the voting booth has happened. The public hated it, the experts were wrong, been destroyed. Domineering family members, friends, and New Coke was one of the biggest product union officials, employers, nursing home bombs of the 20th century. workers, or religious leaders can ensure One day people will remember forced votethe voter cast a ballot “correctly.” by-mail in the same way. These are not just theoretical dangers. Our election officials, led by Secretary of In Virginia, a mayor and 13 residents of State Sam Reed, have touted vote-by-mail as a small town have been charged with the answer to election problems nationwide. stealing ballots from mailboxes and They claim it will decrease election fraud, casting them fraudulently. increase voter turnout, and save taxpayers In Hartford, Connecticut, eight millions. local politicians were arrested for Their promotion has prompted other states absentee ballot fraud, including a state to consider forced mail-balloting measures. representative who last year pled guilty On Election Day, Arizona voters had a chance to “encouraging” voters in a housing to approve Proposition 205, which would have complex to vote for him. mandated vote-by-mail in the Grand Canyon Richard Mawrey, a judge in England “Mail voting State. who presided over a 2005 case where is ‘hopelessly hundreds of absentee ballots were Fortunately, Arizona citizens rejected the insecure...”’ measure, 71 to 29 percent. Not even the altered said, “Postal ballots are sent out Congressional Republicans lost that badly. in ordinary mail in clearly identifiable Although vote-by-mail was sold to both envelopes. Short of writing ‘STEAL Arizona and Washington citizens as being a ME’ on the envelopes, it is hard to see check against voter fraud, voting-by-mail is “the tool what more could be done to ensure their coming into the of choice, for those inclined to commit voter fraud,” wrong hands.” according to a report by the Florida Department of Law Mail voting is “hopelessly insecure,” said Mawrey. Enforcement. The 2001 National Commission on Federal “The system is wide open to fraud and any would-be Election Reform and the 2005 Commission on Federal political fraudster knows that it’s wide open to fraud.” Election Reform, both co-chaired by former President Proponents of mail balloting claim that signature Jimmy Carter, each concluded that mail ballots present verification will make it almost impossible to commit the best opportunity for fraud. fraud. Unfortunately, signature verification cannot stop It makes sense. At the polls, the only time ballots are the types of fraud listed above. The other problem is that not under the direct supervision of election workers is signatures change daily and election workers, who have when a voter takes his ballot to vote in a private voting minimal training checking signatures, have to process booth. Election officials have no control over mail ballots thousands of ballots in a few days. for weeks; many are never returned.
This makes the process error-prone. Every year in Washington, hundreds of voters who use absentee ballots have their ballots set aside, because the signature on their voter registration does not match the signature on their ballot. Often the voter did nothing wrong; his signature simply changed with time. Unless the voter provides the elections office with written notification, his ballot would not count. Compare your signatures on your credit cards, voter registration, and checks and you will realize this could happen to you. Advocates in Arizona and Washington have also touted forced vote-by-mail as a way to increase turnout. Curtis Gans, director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, has studied voting patterns for years. He found that states that adopted reforms to make it easier to vote absentee “actually hurt voter turnout … in virtually every election since 1988—both Presidential and mid-terms.” Arizona and Washington supporters claim forced mail voting will save tax dollars. Even this is not always the case; it all depends on what is considered a cost. Professor Melody Rose of the University of Portland found that the purported savings in an all-mail ballot system “largely depends on how ‘costs’ are defined. Expenses have shifted from the state to the voter.” Both Pierce and King County have found that switching to vote-by-mail would increase election expenses. Arizona’s rejection of vote-by-mail should be a wakeup call to our election officials. Happily for Coke drinkers, Coca-Cola realized the error of New Coke and quickly brought back the original formula. Unfortunately, when election officials move to voteby-mail, it is not as easy to correct.
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Budget transparency a click away by Sen. Tom Coburn and Jason Mercier
ast month Governor Christine Gregoire introduced her 2007-09 spending plan for the state. It called for even more spending than the $63 billion taxA searchable payers are investing in the current budgets. For those budget database not wanting to read the Governor’s hundred-plus page would greatly budget proposals or wade through numerous state websites and publications necessary to learn the details of increase the where these billions in tax dollars will be spent, there is accountability another way: a searchable budget database modeled afand transparency ter a recent federal reform. Recognizing the need to be accountable to Americans of state spending for the nearly $1 trillion dollars in discretionary spending decisions. the federal government allocates each year, President Bush signed into law last year the bipartisan Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. This law creates an easy-to-use “Google” type website that allows citizens to track the recipients of all federal funds. According to the President, this searchable budget database will enable citizens “to call up the name and already be maintained by the Office of Financial questionable spending decisions. Thomas Jefferson location of entities receiving federal funds, and will Management. What is needed to bring this reform knew this in 1802 when he wrote, “We might hope to provide them with the purpose of the funding, the to Olympia is the commitment and courage of state see the finances of the Union as clear and intelligible as amount of the money provided, the agency providing officials. A searchable budget database would greatly a merchant’s books, so that every member of Congress the funding and other relevant information.” increase the accountability and transparency of state and every man of any mind in the Union should be The need for fiscal responsibility and transparency spending decisions. able to comprehend them, to investigate abuses, and is not limited to politicians in Washington, D. C. This is important because budget transparency and consequently to control them.” Washingtonians also have the right to know what disclosure go a long way toward preventing waste and If even a spending-dysfunctional Congress can get organizations and activities are being funded its act together to bring about this with their state tax dollars. A state version needed reform, it should be a breeze for Jason Mercier is Sen. Coburn is in his of the Federal Funding Accountability Washington’s progressive state officials Director of the first term in the and Transparency Act would allow state to implement. Though a searchable Evergreen Freedom U.S. Senate and was taxpayers, activists, bloggers, media and budget database is not a cure-all for Foundation’s the co-sponsor of political organizations to easily examine the questionable government spending, it is Economic Policy the Federal Funding state budget. a necessary part of the cure and would Accountability and Center. The fiscal information needed to create Transparency Act. make budget transparency one click a state searchable budget database should away for taxpayers.
“This law creates an easy-to-use ‘Google’ type website that allows citizens to track the recipients of all federal funds.”
State Supreme Court hears spending limit arguments by Jason Mercier
n November 28, the Washington State Supreme Court heard oral arguments concerning the legislature’s violation of the people’s tax and spending limit, Initiative I-601. The challenge was originally filed last year by the “Save 601” coalition to protect I-601’s spending and tax limits. The initiative was passed by voters in 1993 and restricts the rate at which the budget can grow. It also requires that any tax increase in excess of the limit be ratified by voters before taking effect. Earlier last year, a Snohomish County Superior Court judge found the state had violated I-601 by adopting the 2005 budget and various tax increases in excess of the established spending limit without a vote of the people as required by law. Essentially this case boils down to whether or not the state will be held accountable for breaking the law. At oral arguments the state all but admitted it violated I601 but claimed it “cured” its violation by passing a bill to retroactively make its actions legal. If there was no violation, then there was nothing to “cure.” In apparent agreement with our description of the Legislature’s budget shenanigans, Justice Susan Owens described the Legislature’s actions as a “shell game” designed to avoid a vote of the people. That “shell game” looked like this: During the 2005 Legislative Session, lawmakers artificially increased the spending and tax limits imposed by I-601 by engaging in a $250 million “merry-go-round” fund transfer among three state accounts. This enabled legislators to enact almost $1 billion in new spending and taxes—including a state-only death tax and new taxes on cigarettes, liquor, and extended warranties—without triggering a vote of the people.
In response to our lawsuit, on March 17, 2006, Snohomish County Judge James Allendoerfer found the state’s 2005-07 budget had violated the tax and expenditure limits. Allendoerfer ordered the spending limit reduced by $250 million and invalidated most of the tax increases until ratified by a vote of the people. The death and cigarette taxes survived on a technicality. I-601’s taxpayer protections apply only to the state’s general fund. When enacting the death and cigarette taxes, the Legislature dedicated the revenue to an offbudget account. Although no questions were asked by the justices concerning the legitimacy of the state’s claim of legislative and executive privilege to deny access to some budget communications, our legal briefs asked the Court to deny these privileges. The budget records that were ultimately released were very damning for the state. As noted by KING 5 columnist Terry Corbell, “Claiming both executive and legislative privilege, the state tried to conceal a series of incriminating emails. But the judge allowed some into evidence and ruled that the e-mails proved budget writers knew they were violating the intent of I-601. The
e-mails plotted a scheme to shift funds in order to superficially inflate the spending limit to avoid automatically triggering a public vote on the tax increases.” A ruling by the State Supreme Court could come at anytime. This case was brought against the state by EFF, the Washington State Farm Bureau, Washington State Grange, National Federation of Independent Business, Building Industry Association of Washington, Washington Association of REALTORS, and Snohomish County taxpayer Steve Neighbors.
“Essentially this case boils down to whether or not the state will be held accountable for breaking the law.”
Your help needed Even though the state Supreme Court has already heard this case, your help is still needed. Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to EFF to help defray the cost of this legal challenge and to protect Washington’s tax and spending limit. Additional details on the lawsuit can be found at:
A PUBLICATION OF THE EVERGREEN FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Repealing America’s “Birth Tax” by Amber Gunn
here is no time like the present to begin working to avert a fiscal crisis. We must act now and hold our leaders accountable if we are to give children and young people today the same opportunities every American generation has enjoyed. Over the next 25 years, our nation will experience an unprecedented demographic shift. Those 65 and over will swell from 12 percent to 20 percent of the population, while the percentage of working age citizens will shrink. This means that one of the main drivers of economic growth—an expanding workforce—is in jeopardy. Even more alarming, the ratio of workers paying into Social Security and Medicare relative to the number of people drawing benefits will fall by one-third. There is no plan to pay for this except running up the national debt. Taxes at all levels of government already consume a staggering 30 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. That means 30 cents of every dollar is collected by the government. Even this bloated figure cannot keep pace with federal government spending, and accordingly our national debt continues to swell every second. Today, our federal debt and future unfunded commitments for things such as Social Security and Medicare breaks down to $435,000 per American household, while the average income is $46,000—a nine-to-one debt to income ratio. Like a malevolent birthright, each child and young person alive today will see dramatically higher taxes coupled with massive cuts in services in order to fund programs for which they did not vote or have representation. Thankfully, efforts are underway to bring attention to America’s growing “birth tax.” In November, I attended the “Fiscal Wake-Up Tour” in Seattle. This was one of a series of public forums set
changes now. “We are devastating opportunities for the younger generation.” Demographic change isn’t the only problem we are facing. Health care Even this bloated figure cannot keep pace with is the number one fiscal challenge spending, and accordingly our national debt for federal and state governments. continues to swell every second.” Walker notes that U.S. health care is zero for three in the areas that matter—cost, access, and quality. Worse, health care spending is predicted to nearly double from what it was in 2002 to $3.1 trillion by 2012. How did we get so muddled up? Entitlement mentality and fiscal irresponsibility have been the main drivers. In the late 90’s, deficits were turned into short-term surpluses and entitlements were expanded. The estimated costs of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, for example, will reach $1.2 trillion by 2015. On paper, balancing the budget is not a difficult feat. Politicians and "Today, our federal debt and know how to rein in government future unfunded commitments have spending, just as they know for things such as Social to manage their personal been the main drivers." how Security and Medicare breaks spending. But like a 16-year-old down to carrying daddy’s credit card, the consequences of mismanagement seem remote but the short-term rewards are immense. Nevertheless, debt is not a painless alternative to taxes. Putting off payments shifts the burden from one generation to the next, only with the certainty that it will up by the Concord Coalition to get the message of fiscal be far greater. Repealing America’s growing “birth tax” by demanding responsibility out to the American people. fiscal responsibility from our elected officials is a legacy The nation’s comptroller general and key note our children and grandchildren will thank us for. speaker of the tour, David Walker, says deficits will be unparalleled in the future should we fail to make
“...30 cents of every dollar is collected by the government.
"Entitlement mentality fiscal irresponsibility
Sonics subsidies: Plasma TVs before food? by Amber Gunn
n a bid to out-maneuver taxpayer-approved Initiative 91 that put a damper on plans for a taxpayerfinanced renovation of Key Arena, Sonics owner Clay Bennett is giving Seattle area residents a run for their money. Though 75 percent of Seattle voters rejected subsidies for a new Sonics home in November, I-91 will not necessarily stop a new arena from being built. County or state taxes could still be used on an arena in Seattle— the tax model used to build Safeco and Qwest fields. The new Sonics owner informed the Seattle Times that the team did not favor a public vote on the issue to begin with and would now seek a “significant” public contribution for a new arena in a Seattle suburb. Mayor Greg Nickels suggested the main goal of a Sonics deal is not to make money for the city treasury but to promote a variety of cultural activities. It’s hard to take this suggestion seriously when Seattle taxpayers were also asked to approve a $1.8 billion, 20-year package for basic road maintenance this November. If a special levy is necessary to fix Seattle’s roads, city officials have no business asking taxpayers to subsidize a sports arena. The passage of I-91 sent a clear message to lawmakers: Leave sports entertainment to the private sector. The end of the sports subsidy era in Washington is (let us hope) near. After forking up $591 million for Qwest Field, $427 million for Safeco Field, $200 million to retire the Kingdome debt, and $168 million for freeway access improvements for Qwest Field, taxpayers have finally had enough. If elected officials want to see the Sonics stay, they should use their status as community leaders to organize a privately-financed fundraising campaign. Collect donations and/or investments from stakeholders who have a vested interest in the Sonics and would be
“After forking up $591 million for Qwest Field, $427 million for Safeco Field, $200 million to retire the Kingdome debt, and $168 million for freeway access improvements for Qwest Field, taxpayers have finally had enough.”
willing to pay to keep them here. Or for more ideas, study how the Dolphins, Patriots, Bucks, Celtics and Timberwolves all privately financed their facilities. It’s not an impossible feat. By rejecting future subsidies for sports arenas in Seattle, taxpayers have taught lawmakers a lesson in prioritizing. Subsidizing private entities is not a core function of government. Families must set priorities and live within their means, so should government. Complaining that there is no money for basic road maintenance while gleefully
embracing a subsidized sports arena is akin to a mother crying that she has no money to feed her children because she just “has to have” that new 42-inch plasma TV. In a limited-dollars scenario, what I like to call “life”, spending outside core government functions is harmful, because we must inevitably give up something vital in order to finance the non-essential service or project. Kudos to Seattle taxpayers for recognizing that more important things deserve priority.
Sam Reed’s agenda: Convenience trumps security again by Jonathan Bechtle
ecretary of State Sam Reed has never been lax about proposing legislative fixes to the election system, but time and again those fixes have focused on ways to make elections more convenient at the expense of security. The prime example was his recommendation for vote-by-mail, a system certainly more convenient for voters and election officials, but also inherently insecure. A report issued last month by the federal Elections Assistance Commission underscored this vulnerability by concluding most voter fraud originates in mail ballots. Secretary Reed has done it again. In December he announced his legislative “package” of election fixes, and convenience is again the focus. He has four recommendations: • Allow citizens to register to vote online; • Remove the requirement that a party selection box be
checked on "pick-a-party" primary ballots;
• Authorize the creation of a voters guide for primary
• Remove the "unaffiliated" ballot in presidential pri-
The merits of these recommendations can be debated; the primary ballot fix is probably a good thing, while the online voter registration raises Internet security concerns. The real problem is the absence of real recommendations to improve election security. Major security gaps exposed in the 2004 gubernatorial race still remain unaddressed, and yet none of them seem to be a concern for Secretary Reed. First, there’s the gap for non-citizen voters. Every time voter rolls have been checked for non-citizens (in California, Texas, Illinois, and North Carolina, among others) many have been found. No checks have been run in Washington, but the combination of giving drivers’ licenses to non-citizens and asking all new licensees if they would like to register to vote doesn’t
Again, will the real Sam Reed please stand up? "Despite assurances that he supports some of these changes,
not one was included in his legislative package.”
bode well for the integrity of our voter rolls. This problem could be addressed by using jury rolls to find potential non-citizens, by requiring proof of citizenship at registration, and by requiring current voters to show proof of citizenship to update their registration (over a period of time). Second, we have inadequate mail ballot security. Signature verification is the only check on the system. It’s a flawed process, because the election workers are just temp workers trying to make expert handwriting judgements thousands of times in a few-days. Errors often slip through, allowing fraud to occur or preventing lawful votes from being counted. A possible solution is to require drivers’ license or social security numbers to be written under the security flap on ballot envelopes to provide a secondary identity check. County auditors should also be prohibited from forwarding ballots. One other issue with mail ballots is our current law allows someone who is unable to sign their name to use an “X”. They must have two witnesses, but the law doesn’t require the witnesses to give any identifying information beyond their (likely unreadable) signature. We’ve uncovered a situation where a voter used this exception on one ballot, then cast another ballot with his
signature. The ballot is under investigation, but followup with the witnesses will be difficult. The law should be changed to require at least the address and printed name of the witness. Third, the state voter registration database continues to have accuracy problems. Not all counties verify the validity of residential addresses, so some non-existent addresses are in the system. Voters aren’t required to register in their legal name, making it difficult to find duplicates, dead voters and felon voters because the names don’t match. Voters should be required to use their full legal name when registering. These and other security gaps and recommendations were communicated by EFF staff to Secretary Reed multiple times over the past two years, including in face-to-face meetings. Despite assurances that he supports some of these changes, not one was included in his legislative package. While it’s naïve to think the legislature would pass everything, his duty as the state’s chief elections officer is to recommend not only what’s most convenient, but also what’s best for the integrity of Washington elections.
Public schooling divides far and wide by Neal McCluskey
hat could possibly be the connection between school desegregation and the mystifying phrase “Bong Hits 4 Jesus?” Something critically important, it turns out. Both have spurred legal battles that have risen to the U.S. Supreme Court, and both demonstrate that a public school system that demands everyone’s support but can only reflect some people’s values will inevitably lead to conflict. [Recently], the Court heard arguments on school integration cases from Louisville, Kentucky, and Seattle, Washington, in which plaintiffs challenged enrollment policies that consider race in deciding who can attend specific public schools. In Jefferson County, Kentucky—which contains Louisville—parents are allowed to choose among many district schools, but no school’s enrollment can be less than 15 percent, or more than 50 percent, African American. The result: students have been denied admission to the schools of their choice on the basis of their race. Seattle’s system was similar, considering race in determining who could attend high schools to which more students applied than could be accommodated. (The district suspended use of race when it was challenged in 2001.) If a child’s race would have gotten a school closer to an enrollment mix of 40 percent white and 60 percent minority—roughly the district’s overall complexion—the child got an admissions advantage. The desire to promote integration and diversity is laudable. Indeed, because Seattle and Jefferson County public schools are government entities, they have an obligation to ensure that benefits are distributed equally. But that’s also the integration plans’ biggest failure:
Rather than letting all parents choose the best schools for their children, the districts have kept kids out of good schools because of their race. As Louisville mother Tamila Glenn, whose son was forced to change schools between kindergarten and first grade, put it: “It’s like saying [to your child], ‘You can only play with these people because you have too many black friends.” So how does the bong hits case, which the Court agreed to hear last week, pit irreconcilable values against each other as the integration controversies do? It goes back to January 2002, when Juneau-Douglas High School student Joseph Frederick held up a sign emblazoned with “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” as the Olympic torch passed through Juneau, Alaska. Frederick refused to put the sign down when principal Deborah Morse ordered him to, so Morse suspended him, asserting that she could not allow a student to encourage illegal drug use and defy her instructions. Because citizens have a right to expect that the schools for which they pay won’t permit behavior that disrupts learning, or promotes illegal activity, Morse did what she had to. But then there are those pesky competing values again: While districts must maintain order, government may not punish speech just because some people find it inappropriate. “We thought we had a free-speech right to display a humorous saying,” Frederick has explained. Unfortunately, while Frederick’s sign might have been unique (though not, frankly, all that funny), neither the fight over it, nor the Seattle and Louisville cases, is the least bit novel. The sad reality is that public schooling forces Americans to fight constant, values-laden battles
not just over race or free speech, but a myriad of other issues as well, including sex education, religious expression, homosexuality, evolution, and so on. And brace yourselves, because the Christmas season sparks some of the fiercest battles of all. These conflicts are inevitable: No school can simultaneously respect all speech and censor disruptive expression; engineer integration and be color-blind; celebrate Christmas and be totally secular; and so on. As a result, citizens have no choice but to engage in political combat to get what they want from the schools they are forced to fund. Thankfully, since these battles have a common cause, they also have a common solution: Unfettered school choice, in which the public ensures that everyone can afford an education, but individual parents and autonomous schools decide what values they’ll embrace. Want a racially diverse student body, as many parents, both black and white, do? Pick a school that has one. Not fond of kids talking up bongs? Choose a private institution where children check their speech rights at the door. Want to end the fighting? Let parents select the schools they like, and the underlying cause of combat will disappear. Whether it’s an issue as contentious as race, or as strange as a kid’s sign about bongs, public education is beset by constant political warfare. But it doesn’t have to be. All we need to do is set people free. Neal McCluskey is an education policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, and author of the upcoming Cato study “Why We Fight: How Public Schools Create Social Conflict.”
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Disappointing Medicaid advisory report by John Goodman
n “Million Dollar Baby,” Hilary Swank’s character offers her mother a free house. But the mother angrily rejects the offer, requesting cash under the table instead. The reason: a house would disqualify her for welfare and Medicaid benefits. Reform of at least one of those problems is well under way, thanks to Pete du Pont and then Bill Clinton and then (mostly Republican) members of Congress—all of whom promised to “end welfare as we know it.” What is now needed is to end Medicaid as we know it. Imagine that tomorrow’s newspaper carries the headline: “Supreme Court Declares Medicaid Unconstitutional.” After much hand wringing, Congress would almost certainly give the Medicaid funds to the
states as an unrestricted cash grant and hope for the best. We would then get 50 different experiments— almost all of which would significantly improve the current system. Why? Because today states only have to pay for 33 cents of every Medicaid dollar they waste, on the average. Federal taxpayers pay the other 67 cents. Conversely, the states get to keep only 33 cents of every dollar of waste they eliminate. If the states had to pay the full costs of their bad decisions and if they got to reap the full benefits of their good ones, they almost certainly would make better decisions. With this in mind, The New York Times description of a federal advisory panel’s recommendations is
disappointing—especially considering that this is a Republican panel appointed by an administration dedicated to consumer directed health care. Far from calling for an end to Medicaid as we know it, the panel called for enrolling the disabled in managed care, encouraging home care over nursing care, and giving the biggest subsides to those with the lowest incomes. Reporter Robert Pear called these recommended changes “sweeping.” Perhaps inside the Beltway they will be viewed as such. For the rest of the country, they are not nearly sweeping enough.
Competitive contracting: Olympia’s hollow “Reform” by Amber Gunn
he so-called “three-legged stool” of the 2002 state civil service reform has turned out to be a onelegged pogo stick, bouncing its way through closeddoor union negotiations while leaving the best interests of taxpayers in the dust. Competitive contracting, which allows private companies to compete with public agencies for the ability to provide services, has proven to be an illusory reform. A new legislative audit confirms that state agencies have made little use of it. As one of three civil service reforms passed in 2002, competitive contracting spelled doom in the eyes of some union bosses. The Washington Federation of State Employees used to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year fighting it just on principle. However, in the end, labor got the better deal by far. The collective bargaining authority that the unions obtained empowered them to negotiate wages for public employees with the governor behind closed doors. Previously, the legislature set worker compensation packages directly during budget deliberations. The new change essentially cuts the legislature out of the wage process, since they cannot modify these contracts, only reject them or accept them in their entirety.
Proponents of collective bargaining garnered support by coupling it with competitive contracting. Unfortunately, the contracting provisions were bogged down with timeconsuming compliance requirements. And, in a bizarre twist, an agency’s right to competitively contract was itself subject to collective bargaining. As a result, the option to competitively contract for some agencies was pushed out of the picture altogether by union negotiations. The purpose of competitive contracting is not to threaten union jobs or put people out of work, but to empower agencies to explore the most efficient and effective ways to provide services by allowing all options at the table. If a private employer can provide a service more efficiently, potentially displaced public employees are allowed to form an Employee Business Unit to offer a competing bid. No matter who is awarded the bid, taxpayers benefit because the competition lowers costs and improves service quality. A grand total of three agencies have exercised the option to use competitive contracting since it became available in 2005. The legislative audit interviewed 23 state agencies and higher education institutions to find out why this number is so low.
Agency managers conveyed two main reasons for not competitively contracting. First, they cited the process as complicated and confusing. Second, the collective bargaining agreement creates additional challenges by requiring labor negotiations, which generates disincentives for agencies to participate. The concerns expressed by agencies and the laughably low participation rates necessitate additional reforms. Competitive contracting itself should not be up for negotiation, period. The Employee Business Units offer sufficient protections for public employees to get a fair shot at government contracts. Rather than making competitive contracting a mandatory subject of negotiation during collective bargaining, the governor and the legislature should encourage agencies to conduct a “yellow pages” test to determine what services are readily available in the private sector and to introduce bidding in those areas. State agencies should be focused on providing services as efficiently and effectively as possible so that taxpayers get the best return for their investments. Ultimately, agencies must be given the freedom to do what is necessary to deliver on performance expectations.
Education Reform Center 2007—a lot to look forward to by Steven R. Maggi
t is both an honor and a privilege for me to be joining one of the premier public policy research organizations in the United States. For 16 years, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) has done an outstanding job researching and providing information on education reform issues. We look forward to continuing that great effort in 2007, with an ambitious plan to further our goal of establishing student-centered education in Washington State by allowing educational choices for parents, children, and teachers. Our daily papers are filled with stories about large percentages of students unable to meet basic academic standards that determine a necessary knowledge level for high school graduates. More than ever, the status quo in education is simply not working. In 2007 and beyond, we at EFF will research, document, and distribute valuable information and statistics as a road map to a strong education for all of Washington’s students. When it comes to education, we all want the same things: a quality education for our youth, with meaningful parental involvement; highly qualified teachers; clear and rigorous academic standards; and strong educational leadership. Our research shows that these are best achieved in a market-based education system, where parents are able to choose the educational options that best meet the needs of their children.
We have a lot in store for 2007. Some of the activities we have planned include: Looking into the lives of students, parents and teachers who are thriving in diverse education settings. We will also tell the stories of students who are struggling in poorly performing schools and look at what they could achieve with better alternatives. Continuing to inform citizens by showing exactly how much Washington State spends for K‑12 education. In addition, we will show some new possibilities using those same dollars in varied education venues that are chosen by parents. Looking at what it means to be literate. That is, what a student must know and be able to do. We will also introduce parents to a number of successful curriculum options, and see how they compare with Washington’s existing requirements. Having a discussion about valid and reliable student assessments and show why they are an indispensable tool for parents, teachers and school administrators. Building on groundwork laid in 2006, we will continue to discuss market‑based incentives to our state’s teacher salary structure and promote reliable, performance‑based teacher evaluation tools.
Continuing to be a clearinghouse for the latest and best information on school reform and options for change. The great publications and reports you have become accustomed to from EFF will continue, as will our efforts to reach the parents, teachers and students of Washington State. We look forward to a great year and encourage you to stay in contact with us.
Attorney General’s office institutes a pay-for-performance system by Victor Joecks
or centuries, private businesses have used performance bonuses to motivate employees. The competitive pressures of business force a private enterprise to reward performance or lose revenue. Since the government has no competitors, but does have the ability to coerce money from private citizens, free-market reforms have been delayed. For example it took a citizen’s initiative to authorize performance audits. Other improvements, like competitive contracting, recovery audits, and tying agency budgets to performance, have not materialized. But thanks to the hard work of EFF members and other believers in limited, accountable government, these reforms are coming. Not only has Washington established a Priorities of Government budget model and passed the strongest performance audit law in the country, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) recently announced that it had become the first state agency to implement a plan to use performance bonuses to reward higher performing employees. The AGO will use two performance bonuses—a Performance Award and an Excellence Award. Up to 70 percent of employees can qualify for the Performance Award and earn a $300 bonus and three days of recognition leave. No more than ten percent of employees will be eligible for the Excellence Award. It includes a five percent bonus (not to exceed $3,000) and three days of recognition leave. Future award amounts will depend on funding. To accurately measure performance, the AGO will use new evaluations that let managers determine what results and skills an employee is expected to gain in the upcoming year in addition to the normal requirements of his job. To ensure that every employee understands
“Now that the need for a performancebased culture has been recognized, executive and legislative leadership is needed to help government expand performance measures to all agencies.”
what is expected of him, an employee will sit down with his supervisor to discuss his objectives for the next year. The new evaluations will focus on outputs and things related to the job, like improved skills, abilities, or behaviors. Employees can be recognized for their achievement in various categories including leadership, innovation, and contribution to customer service. Employees can qualify for a Performance Award by achieving their personal goals in two categories. To earn an Excellence Award, employees must significantly exceed their personal goals in three or more categories. “Performance management aligns each individual’s performance with the AGO’s mission, vision, values and goals, providing a clear link for employees to see how their work contributes to the success of the agency,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna. It also gives all
employees an incentive to work harder, which ultimately benefits taxpayers. The AGO conducted the first evaluations in December and the first awards will be given in January. Now that the need for a performance-based culture has been recognized, executive and legislative leadership is needed to help government expand performance measures to all agencies. Governor Gregoire needs to ensure her agency directors use performance measures or replace them with leaders who will. The Legislature, which controls agency funding, needs to directly tie agency budgets to meeting performance outcomes. Advocates of limited, accountable government need to know our ideas are winning. Although there is much left to do, the AGO’s pay-for-performance plan is one more step in the right direction.
For those who have asked... by Lynn Harsh
ome of you have asked us how you might easily add EFF to the people and organizations you have already listed as recipients in your will. We are honored by this inquiry, because we realize it is an expression of your values and your trust in us to discharge our promises honorably. It is no small thing to decide how to give the fruits of your lifetime of hard work. Last month we received a generous donation from the estate of a 13-year EFF member. In the accompanying letter, his daughter wrote about her father, “His views on freedom, conservative values, personal responsibility, and love of country were very strong. He kept close watch on the policies of his charitable beneficiaries and your organization was one that remained on his short list.” It’s impossible for us to express how humble and appreciative we feel reading her words. It renews our dedication. And it brings to mind another important consideration.
Also, will its leaders likely keep faith with the mission after you are gone? After all, look at the charters of the major public universities compared to what they are actually delivering today. Many of these institutions get by with disemboweling truth and practicing intellectual laziness because the faculty and administration can do as they please: hang the charter; hang the customers. Endowments now support the ivory towers. To protect us against the same maladies, we continue to refine our by-laws to protect our mission and its delivery long after the EFF founders are gone. We will get as close as possible to iron-clad. If you choose to remember us in this way, you or your attorney can write a simple codicil to your will. The following is a sample of “lawyer-approved” words.
“To protect us against the same maladies, we continue to refine our by-laws to protect our mission and its delivery long after the EFF founders are gone. We will get as close as possible to iron-clad.”
The sum of __________________ to the Evergreen Freedom Foundation of Olympia, Washington, provided that this charity is still in existence at my death, qualifies for a charitable tax deduction, and is following its original mission as a free market public policy research organization whose mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government. If dispute exists as to whether this foundation is continuing to follow its original mission, final determination shall be made by my personal representative in his or her sole discretion.
When deciding whether or not an organization should receive a gift from your estate, it’s important to consider whether it is healthy and capable of advancing its cause.
I direct my personal representative to make the following charitable contribution from my property. Such contribution may be made either in cash or marketable securities at the election of my personal representative:
If you have any questions, please contact Juliana McMahan at 360-956-3482.
We begin the new year with wind under our wings, thanks to our generous and determined investors. We pledge to use your investment in us as wisely as we and our counselors know how. Next year, EFF will again be holding estate planning seminars as a free service to our members. These seminars are designed not to benefit EFF, but to help our members understand the tax advantages of proper estate planning. If you are interested in attending a seminar please contact Juliana McMahan at 360-956-3482.
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your company offer matching contributions? Many companies offer their employees a matching gift program and will double the money they give to charitable organizations. Usually all that is required is for you to send us a form with your check or credit card contribution. We then fill out the “bottom” section to verify we have received it and send it back to the company. Then they send us a matching check! And how about this creative idea from one of our innovative members? He told his like-minded co-workers that he would match their contributions to EFF (up to a certain amount). Anyone who took him up on his offer quadrupled their money because their company matched both employees’ contributions! Please ask your company if they will match your contribution to EFF. We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information please contact Gail Kramer, at (360) 956-3482 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EFF welcomes new Education Director LIVING LIBERTY
by Marsha Michaelis
t’s a pleasure to introduce to you Steven Maggi, the from his home state of California. Washington has been new Director of our Education Reform Center, who one of his favorite vacation spots for decades. “I love will be taking over the position in January. the beauty of the state, the friendliness of its people, It is, of course, a hard position to give up, since working and even its weather!” he exclaims. to reform education in our state has long been a dream Steve’s professional background gives him the of mine. Sometimes God asks us to give up one dream experience necessary to direct education policy so he can bless us with another though, efforts. He earned his MPA in and when my husband and I married Intergovernmental Management in April we knew we wanted to start a from the University of Southern family. And so we are! Our first little California. His career since has one is due to arrive in the New Year. consisted of working in all aspects There is much to be done in preparation of the government, both as a civil and I’m looking forward to focusing my servant (local, state and national) thoughts and energy at home. and as a consultant. He has been I’ll keep a toe in the world of policy heavily involved in education, ideas by retaining the title of Education emergency preparedness, and Analyst and doing a little research and environmental issues. writing from my home office. During his years managing In the meantime, Steven Maggi is wella business network in Solano equipped to direct the Center’s efforts. It County, California, Steve played has long been his goal to put his talents a significant role in advocating to work in an organization that, as he for charter schools and other puts it, “holds the same beliefs that I do market-based education reforms. on critical issues that face our nation.” His work has included all aspects He heard about EFF through some of of communication, management Steven Maggi will be joining the leading free-market organizations and research. EFF this month. in Washington, DC, and “the rest is When asked to describe the history.” role of government in two or While we have warned him about the proverbial three lines, Steve sums it up this way: “Quite simple, Seattle rain, Steve is excited to move to the Northwest ‘less is more.’ I feel that government is here to protect
our freedoms and to help provide our basic infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, etc.). That said, I feel it is a citizen’s duty to participate in our country’s, state’s and city’s government.” Citizens, he says, must “rely on [themselves] and not on the government.” Steve is interested in education reform because: “I believe education reform is crucial for the United States as it continues to compete in a changing world economy and I see this issue as crucial for America’s continued success. Through options and choice, I believe we can revitalize education in this country. It is exciting and fulfilling to let people know that solutions are available that will make a difference in their lives and in their children’s futures.” As the father of two children, twelve-year-old Christina and ten-year-old Justin, Steve knows firsthand the importance of excellence in education. When he isn’t neck-deep in policy issues, Steve enjoys watching football (USC, Raiders) and collecting artifacts from the 50s and 60s. One final note: It’s been a tremendous honor to work with members like you these past several years. I have enjoyed hearing from, meeting and getting to know many of you at various events around the state. I will certainly miss the daily work of fighting alongside you for liberty and free enterprise in Washington, but look forward to the daily work of passing that torch to the next generation.
What is government all about?
What makes America unique? Why should I care?
Crossroads Choosing Liberty An introduction to American government
The Crossroads curriculum is a resource for teachers seeking an innovative civics unit. The course, which highlights America’s founding principles and their significance for citizens today, includes a three DVD set and workbook. It is most suitable for high school students. By the end of the course students will understand the core principles of democracy as established in foundational documents, including the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. They will be able to analyze the purposes and organization of government and law. Students will be aware of their rights and responsibilities as citizens of the United States and the principles of democratic civil involvement.
For more information or to order the Crossroads curriculum, please visit www.effwa.org/crossroads or contact us at 360-956-3482 and ask for Jonathan Bechtle.