Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA) is so restrictive that some school districts can’t even find appropriate land for building new schools. In a way, the law is fulfilling its goal: to be greatly restrictive of growth. But as the state grows, new schools have to go somewhere.
Even many starry-eyed GMA fans recognize that killing off new schools takes things too far – and that voters are likely to disapprove. Legislators hammered out a bipartisan compromise bill, HB 1017, that would allow some schools to be built outside Urban Growth boundaries.
How bipartisan? It passed 81-15 in the House and 31-17 in the Senate. Many Democrats voted yes, with only the ones most beholden to radical environmental groups voting no.
When you read “radical environmental groups,” Gov. Jay Inslee likely sprang to mind. Inslee is famous for his global warming scaremongering, and for being chummy with the extreme end of environmental groups.
Given all that, the overwhelmingly bipartisan votes on the school siting bill meant nothing to Inslee. He vetoed much of the bill, crafting his veto so that the bill only applies to Pierce County. The Bethel School District there has been unable to build a new high school on 80 acres it owns outside an Urban Growth boundary and has limited options.
Inslee alleviated Bethel’s problem, but what about every other part of the state? Too bad so sad. Inslee’s environmental allies said no to GMA exceptions, not even for schools.
Inslee told reporters the possibility of the utilities being extended to new schools also being extended to housing developments justified his veto: “You just have to make sure the pipe is just big enough to serve the school and not some additional development that would otherwise contravene the value system that is in the Growth Management Act.”
Legislators, especially from rural areas, saw Inslee’s veto as further proof that the governor doesn’t make decisions with the entire state in mind. Rep. Bob McCaslin (R-Spokane Valley), the bill’s prime sponsor, said, “It’s a shame the governor, despite his continued talk of one Washington, is not serious about treating rural communities the same as urban communities.”
“I’m disappointed,” Sen. Hans Zeiger (R-Puyallup) told the News Tribune. “There are a lot of school districts out there that could use some new options.”
Though he called it “a huge step forward” for his district, even the superintendent of the school district Inslee singled out, Bethel, said other districts need help too. From the News Tribune:
“Still, Seigel said he would have liked to see Inslee sign off on the entire bill, which he said would have helped other districts struggling with the same issues. The Washington State School Directors’ Association estimates that 28 of the state’s 295 school districts face situations similar to Bethel’s due to the constraints of the Growth Management Act.”
Legislators say responding to Inslee’s partial veto with a new bill is unlikely this year. That will give them, and voters, plenty of time to contemplate yet another instance of Jay Inslee choosing his environmental allies over local communities.
This veto is from the same political group that demands more funding to reduce class size. To reduce class sizes, you need additional classrooms and teachers. To obtain additional classrooms, you need to build or bus to another facility or both. To build, you need some place to build, either on existing property – at the expense of playground space – or on new property.
In my area, schools are already full and getting more full. Hundreds of houses and apartments are going in all over the place and the schools can’t keep up.
As the housing gets more expensive in closer to the cities, more people are moving to where the affordable housing is – rural areas. These areas are faced with similar issues of needing new construction to keep up with the influx.
Homeschooling is the smallest class size, yet the most shunned by the WEA and allies. At least with all the new housing going in, in a homeschool environment, there will be plenty of “classrooms”.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this governor. He simply doesn’t have a clue. His explanation to “protect” the Growth Management Act is utter rubbish. All the advocates of the Growth Management Act were way left wing protectionists: they wanted to protect someone from living where they wanted and the GMA was a way to do that to make the regulations so stringent that people would have to move back inside the urban growth boundary. Our elected leaders just can’t handle the fact that people want to live in the country away from the inner cities. And then this governor vetos sections of the bill so the schools can build to take care of our students? This guy is a disgrace and an embarrassment. But, nothing new, he’s just being a democrat.
Bob Stuhlmiller says
All is politics no chance of practical or realistic truths.
Seems there are enough votes to override Inslees veto.
Yes, it can be done to reinstate those provisions that were line itemed vetoed. However, our legislative history reflects that the legislature is very leery of doing that. They essentially have to create a bill for each line item vetoed and historically there hasn’t much appetite to do that. Sad but true.
Mike in Spokane says
The Growth Management Act needs to be put where it belongs; in the rubbish bin along with all other Progressive/Fabian Socialist inspired tripe & dribble. Tossing Inslee in there too would be a good thing.