Op-ed: Lawmakers must respect the will of the people

Representatives Larry Hoff and Brandon Vick share their thoughts on how elected officials should address I-976

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this opinion piece are those of the authors alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com

The people have spoken on I-976, and some politicians and activists aren’t happy about it. Instead of simply accepting the result of the vote, they took to Twitter.

Rep. Brandon Vick
Rep. Brandon Vick

On Nov. 6, Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal tweeted: “If Washington State Legislative Democrats do not pull down transportation projects in direct proportion to the 976 yes votes by county, then nothing will change! If certain counties want transportation taxes cut, then they don’t get the projects. Step up Democrats!”

Reykdal later deleted his tweet.

Other opponents of the measure raced to file a lawsuit to block its implementation. Their argument? The ballot title written by the Attorney General’s office was misleading. A King County judge agreed with them, issuing an injunction late last month.

Rep. Larry Hoff
Rep. Larry Hoff

As a result, $30 car tabs won’t be coming to Clark County — or anywhere else in Washington state — anytime soon. In fact, the case is likely to end up in the state Supreme Court.

No matter what happens, Washingtonians sent lawmakers a clear message with their vote: Be more responsible with our tax dollars.

In the 2019 session, budget writers had a $2.8 billion surplus with which to fund a number of important priorities. After the final gavel came down on the 105-day session, just $128 million was left. However, no surplus money was shifted to the transportation budget, and none of the bills introduced by House Republicans to better prioritize spending or prepare for a transportation funding shortfall were approved.

The majority party simply failed to prepare for the possibility of $30 car tabs.

That is remarkable when you consider how consistent voters have been on the issue of new taxes and higher fees. Not only have they supported measures requiring a supermajority vote of the Legislature to raise taxes, but they have also rejected a state income tax, a carbon tax, and state taxes on candy, soft drinks and bottled water.

They keep sending the same message, and the majority party keeps ignoring them. Since the 2011-2013 biennium, spending has increased 70 percent and taxes have gone up by the billions.

Meanwhile, they haven’t seen the results they’ve been promised on a wide array of issues. Is it any wonder why 53 percent of voters statewide, including 61 percent in Clark County, opted to keep more of their hard-earned dollars?

If we had been more responsible with our budgeting, perhaps the vote on I-976 would have gone the other way. Instead, the governor is now set to delay numerous transportation projects throughout the state, including those in Battle Ground, Ridgefield, and Washougal. 

Lawmakers need to work hard during the upcoming session to develop an alternative solution to delaying these projects. They are simply too important for Clark County, especially considering how rapidly our area is growing.

We must come together and deliver not only for our constituents, but for every Washingtonian across the state. Whether they voted for or against I-976 should not be of any consequence.

The people of this great state should come before politics. Always.

Rep. Brandon Vick

Rep. Larry Hoff

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