Seattle Times Editorial
Initiative 1029: Compassion leads to faulty results
The Washington Legislature and Gov. Chrstine Gregoire should overturn Initiative 1029, which abused the good intentions of voters who wanted higher-quality long-term-care workers for the elderly and people with disabilities. Then they should enact a more responsible alternative.
Voters' good, compassionate intentions were abused by the sponsors of Initiative 1029, which purported to ensure higher-quality long-term-care workers for the elderly and people with disabilities.
This measure, which passed handily, is nothing more than an artfully worded ballot measure that belies the bad public policy it is and the serious blow it will give to our state's troubled budget — about $30 million over the next three years.
Lawmakers are preparing to grapple with a projected $3.2 billion deficit in the next biennium — all with re-elected Gov. Christine Gregoire's ironclad promise not to raise taxes on citizens struggling during this economic downturn.
The Legislature and the governor should exercise their right to overturn this initiative immediately. That's a tall order, because it would require two-thirds vote of both houses if lawmakers opt to do it within two years of passage.
But the measure is that ill-conceived and the budget outlook that dire.
Besides, there is a well-considered solution in a bipartisan bill that passed both houses of the Legislature. The Service Employees Union International killed it before final passage by twisting legislative arms.
Then the SEIU drafted this union-building, state budget-busting initiative and played off voters' good intentions to get a better deal.
The bipartisan bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Dawn Morrell, a critical-care registered nurse from Puyallup, emerged from a state task force that studied this issue. It would have increased training for long-term-care workers but established two categories: one requiring 35 hours of training for all workers and a different certification for those completing an additional 50 hours of training.
I-1029 requires all workers to get 75 hours of training.
Morrell's bill is better and more flexible — meeting the needs of individuals who need more specialized care and those who need less.
The Legislature should take the bold, responsible step of overturning this initiative and follow through on Morrell's better, more reasonable solution.