Voter Initiative Advice from WA
John Roskelly, a former Washington state politician, thinks that RI should steer clear of the Voter Initiative:
There are some Washington State initiatives I have personally promoted, such as I-901, which passed by 66 percent of the vote, and eliminated smoking in all public places, including restaurants and bars. But in general, the initiative process limits debate to those with money, runs government by emotion, and wreaks havoc on your local government’s ability to provide necessary services. Show me a state with the initiative process, and I’ll show you a state legislature that failed to do its job.
Too bad Mr. Roskelly doesn’t live in Rhode Island, because then he would have realized that all of those fine points he has proferred actually explain what is currently going on in this state!!! He continues:
During my time as a county commissioner (1995-2004), I dealt with the local budgetary fallout of statewide voter initiatives. For instance, I-747 limited property-tax revenue-collections to a growth factor of 1 percent per year. As a home owner, I was pleased it passed. As a commissioner, in charge of the county’s budget, I had to scramble to balance the budget, while providing the necessary services demanded by the same people who cut our purse strings.
Now, that’s too bad, isn’t it? What Mr. Roskelly can’t appreciate is that the “necessary services” provided in Rhode Island are some of the most expensive and inefficient in the nation. However, he does save himself a bit with his last suggestion:
So, before you let this feisty horse out of the barn in Rhode Island, I would encourage you to put legislators in office who will make the tough decisions they were elected to make, and to severely limit what can be legislated through the initiative process.
Good idea, but we’ve been trying that, haven’t we?