Calculate vote with our kids in equation

From the Everett Herald:

John Burbank, Executive Director

When I think about our future, I think about Mikey, Liana, David, Sean and Stephanie. They are among the high school students I coach in cross country at Ballard High School. They are not the fastest kids. They couldn’t even run around Green Lake last summer. But now they are completing three-mile races, pushing their times down at each race.

So what do these kids have to do with us? Everything.

They are the future of our state. They will be our nurses, mechanics, engineers, teachers, organizers, thinkers, and doers. And they are my reference when I consider the upcoming ballot initiatives. Will our votes open up the doors of education, opportunity, and health for them — or will we let them close?

Initiative 1053 would require the Legislature to pass every single tax measure by a two-thirds vote of both houses. The math works like this: 17 out of 148 legislators could effectively hold up any measure for increasing resources for education and health care. That’s not new math — that’s bad math for our kids and their future.

Initiative 1082 would take apart a workers’ compensation system that has some of the best benefits for injured workers, financed through some of the lowest rates in the country. How did this happen? The Legislature took out private insurance — the middleman that adds no value but takes a big bite of receipts for administration and profit. So if you want to hand over our injured workers’ rehabilitation and quality of life to AIG, you should support I-1082. But if we are interested in the well-being of our kids as they join the workforce, we’ll turn this one down.

Initiative 1098 gives a tax cut to 95 percent of us, while finally getting the wealthy to pay their fair share. I-1098 will bring in over $1 billion a year to public schools, to lower class sizes, pay for mandated high school courses, and finance full-day kindergarten; and it will put more money into community colleges and universities so we can stop skyrocketing tuition increases. Plus it will provide health coverage for all 120,000 people on the basic health waiting list. I-1098 enables our kids to complete a high school education that opens the door to college. It knocks down the financial barriers to getting into college. It is truly a game-changer for education and opportunity.

Initiatives 1100 and 1105 are simply greedy grasps by retailers and wholesalers to become legal drug-pushers in the guise of selling alcohol. The weird thing about these two ballot measures is that we have a good system now for the controlled sale of alcohol. Why make alcohol more available at the local corner store or Costco’s warehouses? It will only result in our kids drinking more. Alcohol is a drug. It closes down the future. Ask anyone who knows an alcoholic. Vote no on 1100 and 1105.

Initiative 1107 is the attempt to fool people into thinking that the Legislature voted through a sales tax on food. That would be accurate if your diet consisted of Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, Kiwi Jelly Bellies, and Coca Cola. But that just makes the point. Our youth are getting obese; type 2 diabetes is close to an epidemic, and we are objecting to a tax on the candy and soda that make them unhealthy? Whether or not we have a funding crisis in our state, this tax makes sense.

Referendum 52 will finance the retrofitting our schools so that we save energy costs in the long run, and in the short run create thousands of jobs for Washington workers. What we save will easily pay back the costs of borrowing the money for these retrofits. It makes sense for our kids, for our public infrastructure, and for jobs, now.

As for those students and cross-country running, well…it isn’t glamorous. It won’t make you rich. And the kids in the back never win. But you know what? Life, for most of us, is not a race to the top and a grab for the most millions. It is trying to finish the job well, being a part of our community, and working for — and voting for — a good quality of life. Not just for ourselves and our neighbors, but for the people we don’t even know. That’s what our democracy is all about.

Remember to vote.

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