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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

November 7, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Gov. Inslee should have revealed ‘no’ vote on Initiative 1351 sooner

Leaders shouldn’t be afraid to influence their constituents – that’s part of the job. I’m disappointed to hear that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee voted against Initiative 1351, but didn’t reveal his preference until after the election.

Supporters of I-1351 billed the law to limit class sizes and for Washington schools to hire 25,000 new workers, about a third of which would be teachers. If it passes — and it’s too close to call right now — the law could add a $4.7 billion burden on the state budget over the next four years.

“I did have concerns about financing, so I did not support it,” Inslee said in a post-election interview with TVW.

Gov. Jay Inslee.

Gov. Jay Inslee.

Many observers, including myself, predicted the initiative would easily pass because the idea of keeping class sizes small sounds appealing to many voters.

The Seattle Times opposed the initiative and urged voters to look beneath the surface at the details. Among our major concerns was a lack of funding and that the state Legislature is on the hook to boost education spending by more than $5 billion during the next four years.

Every daily newspaper editorial board in Washington opposed I-1351, but only a sparse number of elected officials came out against it and a “no” campaign was almost nonexistent.

Inslee said he didn’t want to sway voters by taking a stance before the election, but instead, he dodged a chance to lead and prevent a flawed initiative from going forward.

“We are going to continue to try to move forward on improving our finances no matter how this initiative goes forward,” Inslee said during his interview.

As governor, he should have expressed his concerns with the initiative and let voters know where he stood so they could follow his example. Now, the initiative might require a recount and, if it does pass, it could suck up lawmakers’ time and resources from other matters, and it might not ever be fully implemented.

Inslee might have wanted to let voters make up their own minds, but that’s no excuse for sitting back and not doing what voters expect him to do: lead.

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