Washingtonians understandably take pride in our state’s tradition of transparency in public affairs.
However, this transparency is becoming increasingly murky. An example is recent action in the state Senate — dropping the 120-page education funding bill on a Saturday and holding an unpublicized hearing the next Monday, virtually eliminating the possibility of public input. Senate Ways and Means Committee did this by waiving the rule that requires five-day public notice of a hearing. This is not the first such incident. Last session’s charter school bill reached the floor in what is known as a “title only” bill — with no text and no time for public testimony.
There is no question that our state is facing a crisis in education. For years, the Legislature has failed to provide adequate funding for its paramount duty: providing basic education for our children. This crisis requires thoughtful consideration and cooperation, not political gamesmanship.
Democracy works best when an informed public can influence public issues affecting them. Confidence of voters erodes when input of the public is ignored/pushed aside.
The League of Women Voters strongly believes that public input is a requirement for good government and urges our elected leaders to provide adequate notice to voters.
Marilyn Perkins, President of the League of Women Voters of Benton and Franklin Counties