Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Washington


The America they wanted; the America they got

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Eleven score and 17 years ago, some of the world’s greatest minds brought forth what became the world’s greatest nation.

Dare we wonder what they would think of us today?

Let’s survey the guys enshrined in our wallets: Benjamin Franklin of the $100 bill, Alexander Hamilton of the $10, Thomas Jefferson of the elusive $2 and George Washington, whose $1 note is worth less but gets around more.

So what’s their take on July 4, 2013?

Franklin’s the guy who’d feel right at home if transported to 21st-century America.

High-tech-drenched world? No

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KISS principle prevailed in Washington’s elections

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

In the middle of the hardest economy most of us have known, the citizens of Pierce County on Tuesday approved a new tax. A sales tax, no less, to pay for better 911 system.

OK, it wasn’t a big tax – just an extra penny on a $10 purchase. But it wouldn’t have had a meatball’s chance in a pack of Rottweilers if citizens hadn’t been persuaded they were getting value for their money.

In this case, the value was considerable:

A unified countywide dispatch system to replace the balkanized hodgepodge of agencies that now handle emergency calls. A 21st-century digital radio system to replace aging and obsolete technology. Police, firefighters and dispatchers who can locate and talk to each other across Pierce County in a seamless communications system.

Proponents were selling something easy to understand – public safety – and voters bought it.

Like the election results or lump them – and we lump some of them – Washingtonians were persuaded by clarity when they filled out their ballots.
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I-1163: Can’t afford it, don’t need it, hurts the state

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

If you think this is a good time for the state to spend millions of dollars it doesn’t have on something it doesn’t need, Initiative 1163 is your baby.

Otherwise, kill this measure and let lawmakers try to do damage control on the state’s recession-stricken budget without the interference of another unfunded mandate.

I-1163 is a stinker wrapped up in pretty paper with a bow on top. Pushed by the Service Employees International Union, it purports to address a supposed epidemic of abuse in adult family homes and other long-term care settings.

To this end, it would require that the aides who work in those places get 75 hours of training – as opposed to the current 34 – and federal background checks.

These provisions actually are already state law; they were enacted in 2008 when voters approved Initiative 1029. The Legislature has twice pushed the effective dates down the road to postpone the measure’s administrative, training and federal screening costs.

Legislators kicked the can for good reason: The original initiative – like the current one – included no revenues to pay for itself. It may have looked like a freebie to voters, but it demanded that tens of millions of dollars be sucked out of existing programs.

Budget writers who knew the issue – and were struggling to spare such fundamentals as education, child protective services and necessary protection of people with disabilities – had no problem putting the initiative on hold.
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State laxity on immigration invites voter backlash

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A sobering number from the Pew Research Center: Over the last three years, the number of illegal immigrants in Washington has jumped by 35 percent.

During the same period, the number of illegal immigrants was falling in the rest of the United States, as many of them lost jobs and headed home.

The Pew numbers – based on analysis of U.S. Census data – corroborate an abundance of evidence that Washington has become an oasis of sorts for people without legal residency.

No real surprise there. The state government is unusually hospitable to illegal immigrants – sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for no reason beyond politics.

A good reason: The simple decency of providing health insurance and adequate nutrition to undocumented children – who had no say in a parent’s decision to sneak into the country.

Not so good: The state’s apparently politically driven reluctance to cooperate with a federal push to intercept illegal-immigrant criminal suspects at the point of arrest.

Backed by Congress, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is asking states for fingerprint metrics of arrestees so it can identify those who overstayed visas or otherwise ran afoul of federal immigration law.

State officials could pass on the metrics with no effort or expense. They won’t.
Also not so good is the state’s insistence on issuing standard driver’s licenses to applicants regardless of legal status.

Forty-seven states do not license illegal immigrants, period. One – Utah – issues licenses that are not valid for identification. Only Washington and New Mexico refuse to make any distinction whatsoever between legal and illegal.
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Higher ed lays golden eggs; don’t strangle it

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

A recent story in The Seattle Times vividly illustrated the tight connection between college opportunity and the state economy.

The engineering site director for Google in the Seattle region, Brian Bershad, told the Times that he can’t get enough computer-science engineers from the University of Washington. “If the UW could produce 1,000 amazing engineers every year,” he said, “we’d find a way to hire them.”

Often companies can’t achieve their growth potential for lack of qualified job applicants. Google is in a position to recruit from throughout the world, so it will

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Immigrant license surge argues for two-tier system

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

What happens in Arizona doesn’t stay in Arizona.

That’s the conclusion some experts draw from the exploding number of immigrants seeking driver’s licenses in three states.

Washington, Utah and New Mexico are the only states in the nation that permit illegal immigrants to get licenses. All three are seeing a big surge in the wake of Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

Reporters for The Associated Press found one of the Arizona exiles just north of here, in Burien. Carlos Hernandez packed up his whole family after Arizona passed its new law and came to Washington. He cited access to identification as a key reason.

What’s more, crooks are making a lot of money exploiting the already loose rules.

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