Reporting in today’s Everett Herald details a problem that many voters probably did not know existed in Washington State. The State Legislature is passing unfunded mandates that are causing a huge burden for the counties. During the last budget negotiation the Washington Association of Counties Twitter feed reads like a desperate series of pleas for the State to fund programs that the State makes the counties pay for. This leads to the counties cutting services, like law enforcement, for their residents. Even though the Dems controlled both chambers and received record revenue, the unfunded mandates continued in violation of State law. Now the counties are ready to sue the State to make it pay.
The Legislature could have solved this problem and avoided litigation. But that does not seem to be their style (See McCleary, the culverts in the State, and Western State Hospital). Instead the tax payer will be on the hook for another round of expensive litigation. Only this time it will be more ridiculous because the State (Counties) will be suing the State (Legislature) in State Court, and when the State (County or Legislature) prevails the State (Governor) will have to force the State to pay the State. Make sense? It doesn’t to me either, but here we are.
All the money that they State has spent defending itself in court over the last decade could have gone to these underfunded services, or tax relief, or literally anything else. Instead the money has gone to lawyers. This is why we need to send new people to Olympia. We continue to send the same representatives, and we keep getting the same, wasteful, outcomes. Send a message to Olympia this year. Business as usual isn’t good enough anymore. Its time for a change.