Another round of secret negotiations between Jay Inslee and the state employee union executives (who put $1 million into his last campaign) kicked off in May. The last time Inslee held secret negotiations with the state employee unions, it ended up costing taxpayers more than an additional $300 million over previous agreements.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of our state’s practice of secret negotiations (a practice that only began in 2002) is the fact that the state Legislature — the people’s representatives — cannot make any amendments to the agreed upon contacts. Instead, lawmakers are restricted to a simple up-or-down vote.
Well, a new editorial in the Seattle Times calls for an end to the practice. Via the Times editorial board:
“Since 2002, the governor has negotiated state labor contracts in secret. Finalized contracts are presented to the Legislature for inclusion in the budget — an up-or-down vote.
“Negotiations should be more open so the public knows what’s on the table and what trade-offs are being made on both sides.”
The Times editorial board hits the problem with secret negotiations on the head when it points out the danger of special interests influencing politics — something that we have warned about time and time again. The Times:
“Given the huge influence of unions on state politics, secrecy gives rise to questions about how governors are influenced by political support they receive from unions they’re negotiating with behind closed doors.
“As Gov. Jay Inslee campaigns this summer for re-election, he’s simultaneously negotiating 26 separate contracts affecting around 49,000 state employees and 46,000 publicly funded, nonstate employees.”
Inslee and his team insist, “Negotiations are not influenced at all by campaign support.” And, we are all supposed to take their word for it.
Of course, the problem with taking their word for it is that Inslee’s campaign also benefits from millions in “dark money” contributions. That means there is no way to verify just how much special interests are pumping into Inslee’s campaign.
That’s just too much secrecy for comfort — especially considering it’s liberals like Inslee, who love to use government to reward their campaign buddies — we’re talking about here.