Now that we’ve had time to review and digest the state’s new 2013-15 budget, how did lawmakers do? As with all budgets there are good and bad items included, though the biggest policy success was that lawmakers allowed the 2010 “temporary” tax increases to remain temporary and to expire as promised on July 1. The enacted budget also includes revenue and spending projections that balance in compliance with the state’s new four-year balanced budget requirement.
The July 30 Camas-Washougal Post-Record editorial “Is today’s gridlock turning off tomorrow’s leaders?” is an example of why such articles appear on the opinion pages of the newspaper. Unfortunately, several assertions are based on assumptions, not facts. The article suggests young people 18 to 25 years of age want no part of public service and the voting process because they “see so many power struggles, so much political posturing, nastiness and gridlock at all levels.”
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and her husband, Daniel, termed “miraculous” the birth of their daughter, Abigail, several weeks ago. They had chosen to continue the pregnancy after receiving the diagnosis of Potter’s syndrome which is essentially the failure of the baby’s kidneys to form. I am not a fan of Rep. Herrera Beutler’s politics, but I was saddened by the news of the baby’s condition and what it would mean to her family. I also viewed the situation as an incredible opportunity for this congresswoman to experience firsthand the agony of a family faced with the heartbreaking choices involved in managing such a pregnancy.
With beautiful mid-summer days in full swing, it would be easy to completely forget about the so-called important issues we normally wrestle with locally in Camas, Washougal and throughout Clark County. Especially if you are a young person 18 to 25 years of age. Really, do we think many of our 18- to 25-year-olds, currently enjoying days at the river, trips to the beach, concerts in Portland or getting prepared for college in the fall are going to give scant attention, right now, to the issues that may affect them considerably in years to come?
Citizens of the East County Fire & Rescue district, watch your mail in the next few days. The ECFR newsletter is being mailed out this week, and it includes a survey asking for your opinion. If you live or own property in the ECFR District, ECFR wants to know what you think about having a bond issue on the upcoming Nov. 6 General Election Ballot. The bond is for 20 years, and the survey presents you with three alternatives: Yes or No to a $1,275,082.00 bond with an estimated cost of 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed value or approximately $1.33 per month for a $180,000 home; yes or no to a reduced bond with an estimated cost of 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed value or approximately $1.18 per month for a $180,000 home; or no to the bond being on this Nov. 6 ballot.
Military installations and defense contractors are taking the brunt of the automatic budgets cuts mandated by sequestration. Why should we care? Washington has major bases and military suppliers such as Boeing. They contribute more than $13 billion to our economy, about 4 percent of total GDP. A July 2012 study by George Mason University projected that sequestration could cost our state 41,000 military-related jobs. The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan will also have an impact.
Noise and chaos around the corner. People reluctantly running with their children in their arms to the city’s gathering areas to see the commotion. Soon, social media is on fire with news about a historical event a year in the making.
About midway through a 40-plus year management career, I became interested in the phenomenon of organizational change. I learned that people don’t necessarily resist change, but do resist the way change affects them personally. The proposal to convert Washougal from a strong mayor to a council-manager type of municipal government portends the type of change that begets both benefits and difficulties. Among the latter are the effects it will have on current and future council members and candidates, as well as the city administrator. I leave to others the task of making the case for change. My focus in this editorial is on the effects the proposed change would have on the job of the city council, and the qualifications needed for the job. These issues deserve consideration during the debate.
Sometimes change can be good. In the near future, we may see changes in government at the county level. In the recent past, Ridgefield and Battle Ground changed their city governments from a strong mayor to a council-manager form. Maybe now is the time for a similar change in Washougal. At the June 10 Washougal city workshop, Councilwoman Joyce Lindsay requested time at the next workshop (June 24) to discuss putting forth to voters the option of changing Washougal’s form of city government from the strong mayor system we have now, to the council-manager form.
Recently, Gov. Jay Inslee proposed several tax increases to the Legislature in a time that state revenues are increasing. That's a combination of factors that will hurt consumers and retailers. Just last month, Inslee's chief economist, Steve Lerch, described Washington state consumer confidence as fragile. Recent payroll tax increases and rising gasoline prices do nothing to encourage companies to hire or consumers to spend, which would help the economy recover faster.