Endorsements — “No” on 1185 & 502, “yes” on gay marriage

Initiative 1185 — Two-thirds majority on tax votes

The Daily World votes “no” on Initiative 1185. We don’t feel the need to complicate the Legislature’s job any further by imposing a two-thirds majority vote to approve tax increases. We understand the angst of many voters over the economy, but the perception that lawmakers are too quick to jump to tax hikes is just that — a perception.

The two-thirds majority is, as Democratic candidate for governor Jay Inslee succinctly put it to our Editorial Board recently, like giving the opposition two votes for every one on the other side. That’s an unfair advantage, and decidedly undemocratic, plain and simple. Besides, if we’re going to be fair, shouldn’t the initiative require a two-thirds majority to pass?

The previous two-thirds majority requirement had a hand in forcing deep cuts to many programs, including education. Thanks to the McCleary decision, the state is now under court order to adequately fund basic education. On that front alone, an interesting question arises for the levy swap concept that some lawmakers — including gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna — have championed.

The idea hinges around shifting local levy collections to the state property tax levy, bringing the state in line with part of the McCleary decision. Whether, in the end, the idea is relatively revenue neutral or could cost some taxpayers more is up for debate, and we’ll leave that to the politicians. But, the levy shift would technically be an increase in state property taxes, regardless of a corresponding cut to your local tax rate.

If it is, would the plan be subject to the two-thirds majority requirement in the Legislature if I-1185 passes? That could create a problem for passing the plan into law, and it’s a question that, according to the McKenna campaign, remains unanswered. If the answer is yes, it would apply, passing this initiative — which McKenna supports, ironically — comes with too great a cost. And education is just one example of how this initiative could go wrong.

If the minority wants more control over revenue decisions, then it needs to convince voters to make it the majority. In the end, I-1185 is just a knee-jerk political shortcut.

Initiative 1240 — Charter Schools

The Editorial Board is split right down the middle on the fourth attempt to bring charter schools to the State of Washington. There are thought-provoking pluses and minuses on each side to consider, and after a healthy and respectful debate, we couldn’t come to a consensus.

We would absolutely welcome the innovation that charter schools could bring, but there’s also no reason public schools couldn’t innovate more within the framework that already exists. And, frankly, they should. Every student is different, and many might learn better in non-traditional ways. However, if charter schools siphon much-needed cash away from already cash-strapped public schools, it may not be the right time for charter schools in this economy.

Throw in the McCleary decision, and the future funding picture for schools is already getting muddy.

One thing is for sure — we’re a bit weary of the Washington Education Association’s guns-blazing “No on Charters” campaign every time the issue comes up. Charter schools shouldn’t be an automatic “no” for teachers, many of whom, if given just a bit more freedom and funding, could be the innovators that some of our students need to succeed.

After all, education is about the kids. So, let the debates commence, and let the voters decide.

Referendum 74 — Same sex marriage

The Daily World’s editorial board chooses to endorse Referendum 74, affirming the actions that our Legislature and governor have already taken to make same-sex marriage legal. It wasn’t a unanimous decision by the editorial board.

Why shouldn’t they be allowed to marry? Opponents often say it’s because children are meant to be raised by a mother and a father. More important by far is that children are raised by parents who love them.

Opponents also say that civil union laws already give same-sex couples virtually all the legal rights of married couples. But the intrinsic value of marriage is currently withheld from same sex couples and that’s not right.

And opponents say legal, same-sex marriage will redefine and somehow undermine “traditional” marriage. We think the institution is stronger than that. Society will be better off with more couples and more parents who believe enough in the values of commitment, trust and family to formally marry the person they love. Marriage should have a big enough tent to include them.

Imitative 502 — Legalizing marijuana

While we are open to the discussion of legalizing marijuana, The Daily World Editorial Board chooses not to endorse Initiative 502. It wasn’t a unanimous decision by the editorial board.

We can see some merit in considering legalization.

But not while possession and sale of marijuana is still against federal law. We don’t know what the feds will do if the initiative passes, and it would likely end up in court no matter how forcefully they decide to apply federal law. You could say “somebody has to force the issue,” but the state has bigger fish to fry right now — like paying for schools.

That being said, one could argue that marijuana isn’t much different from alcohol or even cigarettes from an addiction standpoint. And, we’re not sure we buy the claim that marijuana is a “bridge drug” to more serious narcotics. It’s also true that a lot of law enforcement resources are spent on marijuana investigations, and that time and money could be applied elsewhere if pot were legal.

But there are also other costs to consider. Smoking marijuana has its own health effects — just like smoking cigarettes — and more widespread use of it because of legalization could increase cancer rates and the massive costs that go with treatment down the road, further burdening a health care system that has enough challenges right now. And, just like legal substances such as alcohol or prescription drugs, officers will still have to deal with drivers impaired by pot, whether it’s legal or not. Those numbers could increase with legalization, too.

There are many questions to ponder with legalization, and they deserve to be thoughtfully considered. We just aren’t sure it should be a priority to answer them in Washington state right now.

The Daily World’s Editorial Board includes Publisher Bill Crawford, Editor Doug Barker, Sports Editor Rick Anderson and City Editor Dan Jackson.