Jim McIntire deserves second term as treasurer

By the Tri-City HeraldOctober 10, 2012 

Jim McIntire has done a good job managing the state's money and deserves a second term as state treasurer.

He was elected to the office in 2008, and helped shepherd the state's finances through some of the toughest economic times in its history.

The Democratic incumbent brings a conservative streak to the office, despite his party's reputation. That's kept Washington in good standing with the nation's bond-rating agencies.

We're one of the heaviest- financed states -- ranking in the top 10 in per-capita debt. It's a testament to the treasurer's office that our bond rating remains at AA+ rating, just short of the perfect AAA, despite the heavy debt.

We're even more impressed that McIntire is working to keep that debt load in check. He's a driving force behind a resolution to amend the state's constitution that would lower the debt limit from 9 percent to 8 percent.

The measure, which is on the November ballot, would also smooth out the state's capital investments by basing that 8 percent calculation on a six-year rolling average of state revenue, rather than the current three-year average. That longer period lessens the effect of abnormally lean or fat years for state revenues, ensuring our debt limit is based on more realistic calculations.

It's telling that the state Republican Party didn't bother to recruit even token opposition to McIntire's re-election.

His Republican opponent, Sharon Hanek of Bonney Lake, qualified for the November ballot by receiving 3.4 percent of the primary vote through write-ins after her party failed to field a candidate.

The state's top-two primary system doesn't set a particularly high bar for write-in candidates to qualify for the general election. A write-in candidate who receives at least 1 percent of the total votes cast in the primary and finishes among the top two vote-getters moves on to the general election.

Even so, Hanek's showing was impressive. She garnered more than 31,000 write-in votes in short order, primarily through word-of-mouth, to qualify for the November ballot.

But her focus in this campaign strikes us as too narrow. She touts her expertise as a certified public accountant, but it's easy enough for the treasurer's office to hire the accountants it needs to manage the books.

The treasurer's duties require a proven administrator with the financial knowledge to ensure the state's money is well managed.

McIntire's background is right for the job. It includes experience as an economist in the private sector, a master's in public policy and a doctorate in economics.

During a decade in the state Legislature, he served as chairman of the House Finance Committee and of the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council, positions that provided a thorough knowledge of the state's finances.

His tenure as state treasurer proved he is able to put that experience to good use. Among his accomplishments -- exemplary management of the states' pension funds. As a result, Washington's pension system is ranked the third best-funded pension system in the country.

At a time when many public employee pension funds are scrambling to stay solvent, it's reassuring to see Washington in such good shape.

State treasurer is one of those ballot positions that attract little attention. But few elected officials have more influence over the economic health of our state. This important position deserves careful consideration by every voter.

The Herald editorial board recommends Jim McIntire for state treasurer.

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