When business and labor speak with one voice we ought to pay attention. "I-976 bad news all around" appeared on the Spokesman's opinion page Tuesday, October 29. (In the paper version it was "I-976 big roadblock to travel, commerce.") Two names appear as the authors of the piece, Timm Ormsby and Alisha Benson. It has become my habit, a habit I recommend to everyone, to check out the authors before I read any opinion expressed. Here's what the article said: "Timm Ormsby is the president of the Spokane Regional Labor Council. Alisha Benson is the chief executive officer of Greater Spokane Incorporated."
I-976, $30 car tabs redux, is Tim Eyman's latest destructive initiative. Eyman's original version, I-695 which passed in Washington State in 2000, so impressed the anti-government/anti-tax Republicans of the time that Eyman was recognized nationally at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for his effort. Recognition as a political activist by the American Conservative Union at CPAC clearly establishes one's right wing credentials.
Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) says on it's website, "We represent 925+ businesses and organizations employing more than 120,000 individuals who live, work and do business in the greater-Spokane region." It wishes to appear non-partisan, but saying that it leans right is probably an understatement. This is the organization that co-sponsored, along with the very right wing Washington Policy Center, the appearance of Scott Walker, the stridently anti-labor former governor of Wisconsin, as an honored speaker at the Washington Policy Center's "Solutions Summit" in May of 2019. The co-sponsorship caused quite a stir. and, for me, labelled GSI as far more Republican partisan than it would like to appear.
So with that background, I was surprised to see the executive director of GSI, Alisha Benson, writing for Greater Spokane Incorporated, come out against I-976. Ms. Benson and Mr. Ormsby argue that, if passed, I-976 would rob Washington State of funds necessary to maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure, that it will cost us all more in the long run trying to find the money elsewhere to accomplish the necessary work. That's notable...but is it enough to ? Does the electorate still read newspapers or will it be swayed by the drumbeat of anti-government, anti-tax fervor hyped on electronic media? I guess we'll see when the ballots are counted next week...
Keep to the high ground, Jerry
P.S. I don't want to get too excited about GSI wading in on this issue. The argument Alisha Benson and Timm Ormsby make is that I-976 would badly disrupt the funds currently used to fund transportation, all the way from potholes to the North South Freeway and public transportation. That is a fair piece removed from the greater question of who it is that bears the overall tax burden in this State. Why is the tax system so regressive that state government has to look to incrementally raising taxes and fees on individual vehicle ownership to build the highways from which we all benefit--but from which commerce and industry benefit disproportionately?