In a few weeks, you’ll be receiving your ballots for the November 5th election. There are two statewide ballot initiatives that will or could have a big impact on children and youth in our state: Initiative 976 (which would restrict car tabs to $30) and Referendum 88 (Fairness in Education and Employment). SOWA’s Board has taken a position on both (No on I-976 campaign and Yes on the Ref 88/Initiative 1000) and below is more explanation. Note: 501(c)3 non-profits can take positions on ballot measures and initiatives (not candidates).
Referendum 88 – Supporting Education and Employment Equity Measure
In 1998, Washington State voters passed Initiative 200 which banned the ability to consider certain underserved communities in decisions for acceptance into educational institutions and for employment. This past session, the legislature passed a new law (known as Initiative 1000 – which will not be a separate ballot measure) allowing race, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, religion, ethnicity, and citizenship status to be a factor when considering a person for public education or employment opportunities. We urge a Yes vote on Ref 88/Initiative 1000.
Voting Yes on Referendum 88 would allow the state to remedy documented or proven discrimination against, or underrepresentation of, certain disadvantaged groups. It would also establish a Governor’s commission on diversity, equity, and inclusion to ensure state agency compliance, comment on legislation, and publish annual reports.
This is different from the previous affirmative action laws in that quotas or preferential treatment and using any of these classifications as a sole reason to hire someone are not permitted. Given limited opportunities and many barriers that exist for people of color and other groups such as veterans, providing safeguards is still necessary. Here’s an interesting op-ed piece form the Washington Post that lays out the case for these types of policies and includes several pieces of research.
Initiative 976 – Limiting Car Tabs
Initiative 976, would limit car tabs to $30. This would have a devastating impact on transportation projects across the state and would upend Sound Transit 3 and the many light rail, train, ferry, and bus projects related to it. We urge a No vote on I-976.
Many youth rely on public transportation to get to school, work, pick up siblings, and get to programs after school and in the summer. Public transportation is particularly important for low-income and homeless youth. This initiative would result in the elimination of many new and pending public transportation projects that youth either rely on now or could utilize if completed. This measure would also likely eliminate the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account (PSTAA) that was included in the ST3 package. This funding is collected and has to be spent to improve educational outcomes for children and youth in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.
There could also be other budget impacts due to the need to find revenue for state and local transportation budgets. There is research and advocacy relating to transportation inequity and this link has some great articles about the cross-section of race and transportation.