PORT ANGELES: Forum discussion focuses on initiatives

PORT ANGELES — Washington voters have weighed in with a series of initiatives in recent years calling for higher teachers pay and reduced property taxes.

But such initiatives are complicated, contradictory and lead to deep cuts in government services, speakers at a forum on the topic said Thursday.

The forum, which featured panelists from local government as well as public policy institutes, were critical of recent initiatives such as I-722, I-728 and I-732.

“It’s like we were gorging ourselves at a Thanksgiving feast, without thinking we would be left with an upset stomach,” Don Hopps, director of the Institute for Washington’s Future, wrote in a study distributed at the forum.

I-732, for example, will require $345 million new spending for automatic cost of living raises for teachers. I-728 earmarks $320 million to help reduce class size.

Hopps said the initiatives were fiscally irresponsible, and he called for a moratorium on any new measures.

“It takes away accountability,” said Port Angeles City Manager Mike Quinn.

John Beitzel, a Sequim councilman, said the effect of I-722, which would limit property tax increases to 2 percent, would have a huge fallout in his town. He estimated the initiative would cost the town $495,000 in lost revenue. I-722 was declared unconstitutional in Thurston County Superior Court in February, though it still awaits a final ruling.

The forum was hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Peninsula Daily News.

This full report appears in the Friday/Saturday edition of the Peninsula Daily News, on sale throughout Clallam and Jefferson Counties.

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