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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Columns

Other Papers Say: A victory for voter information

By The following editorial originally appeared in The Seattle Times:
Published: June 17, 2024, 6:01am

Washington voters face some very weighty ballot measures this November. They should have all the facts at their fingertips to make the most enlightened decisions.

Thankfully, the fight for more information and full financial disclosure just won an important legal battle.

In a June ruling, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Allyson Zipp denied a request from Republican Party Chair Jim Walsh and Mainstream Republicans of Washington Chair Deanna Martinez to eliminate the “public investment impact disclosures” for three citizen initiatives.

Immediately after, Walsh said his party would consider an appeal. Don’t bother.

Walsh supports ballot measures that would end the state’s cap-and-trade system, eradicate the capital gains tax and make a long-term care program optional.

State analysts have said the initiatives, if passed, could reduce funding for education and environmental projects. The initiative that could allow people to opt out of the state’s first-in-the-nation long-term care insurance program could potentially dismantle it.

In a video posted on social media, Walsh said he worried voters may get a negative view of the initiatives if people understood their costs.

“Our concern about this warning label is that it will be weaponized. We don’t mind the idea of more information. What we’re concerned about is it won’t be impartial information. It will be partisan rhetoric, weaponized to make the initiatives sound bad,” he said. “We wanted to see it used very narrowly or not used at all on these initiatives.”

Lawyers for the state argued that Walsh and Martinez’s legal challenge was an attempt to keep information from voters.

Back in 2022, legislators required the state’s attorney general to spell out how state funding and services could be affected by initiatives that repeal, impose, or change any tax or fee and cause a net change to state revenue.

The November election is the first time the disclosure law will be used because no initiatives qualified for the ballot in 2022 or 2023.

This should not be controversial. A neutral and sobering consideration of the financial facts is essential for voters to make the best decisions about this state’s future.

In this small victory for greater knowledge, Washingtonians won.