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I-1033, R-71 Debated in Forum

Opponents of Initiative 1033 say that if passed the ballot measure would be devastating to state and local government, hurting police, fire, health and education services just when tax revenues are already hit hard by recession.
Supporters of the initiative say it would do what lawmakers should have done already – make sure that government lives within its means.
Representatives of the two sides spoke at a League of Women Voters of Kitsap forum Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the Eagles Nest near the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.
Karen Rogers, a Port Angeles city council member and small business owner, said the vote on the Tim Eyman-sponsored initiative is “a defining moment for our state.”
“Why is the rest of the world focusing on education and innovation? Isn’t that what Washington state should be about?” she asked.
Matt Ryan, former Kitsap County commissioner, said the initiative would impose needed fiscal responsibility.
“Maybe it will make us rethink the way we do education,” he said. “Maybe we need charter schools like we have Back East.”
(Washington voters have three times voted against allowing charter schools in the state.)
According to the wording on the ballot, I-1033 “would limit growth of certain state, county and city revenue to annual inflation and population growth, not including voter-approved revenue increases. Revenue collected above the limit would reduce property tax levies.”
Rogers said that small cities like hers have already made significant budget cuts and don’t have any more non-essentials to trim.
She said the initiative would not cut out “faceless bureaucrats” but would eliminate those who perform essential services like snowplow drivers and police officers. That is why police and firefighter unions are opposing the initiative, she said.
Ryan said he hoped the initiative would give “a little bit of spine” to legislators or local governments when negotiating with unions.
“Every dollar of expenditure by government requires a dollar of taxes,” he said.
The other statewide issue on the ballot is Referendum 71, sometimes called the “everything but marriage” law. A yes vote would affirm SB 5688, a bill passed by the Legislature that gives legal protections for lesbian and gay couples and seniors who are in committed relationships.
The Rev. Elizabeth Stevens, pastor at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bremerton, spoke in favor of R-71.
“For me it’s fundamentally about families,” she said, detailing the situation of nontraditional families in her congregation. “It’s about wanting to take responsibility for those we love.”
Robert Struble, representing the Knights of Columbus — a Catholic fraternal organization — and Protect Marriage Washington, quoted scripture numerous times.
“It is folly to take sin and elevate it to the level of a civil right,” he said.
Marriage, as defined as a union between one man and one woman, has served us well through the centuries, he added, and making any changes in that tradition would be harmful to society.
Struble also contended that the SB-5688 is simply a stepping stone toward full rights of marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
“We used to talk about upholding God and country,” he said. “Now we’re asking people to choose between God and country.”
Stevens said her God “pulls the entire world toward acceptance.”
“This is fundamentally about the right of people to care for each other,” she said.
Catherine Ahl, president of LWV Kitsap, moderated Wednesday’s forum. The entire two-hour discussion will be broadcast by BKAT several times before the Nov. 3 election. To see the schedule, go to