When state House Democrats introduced their so-called budget (it’s really just a $39 billion spending plan, with no financing for it), they followed Jay Inslee’s lead and rewarded their million-dollar special interests campaign donors, including the Washington Education Association (WEA), the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), with a whopping $987 million in hard-earned taxpayer dollars for raises and benefits. That generous figure resulted from Inslee’s secret negotiations with the top union executives… who supported his campaign.
No doubt, Democrats—including Jay Inslee—have a special relationship with special interests. This Throw Back Thursday, we’re taking a look back on three times Democrats picked special interests over the interests of Washingtonians.
- When Democrat lawmakers bent to the will of the WEA and killed a bill that would have allowed Washington State to retain its No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal waiver.
During the 2014 legislative session, Democrat lawmakers catered to the WEA’s demands and ensured the failure of a bill that complied with federal standards to use student test scores as an aspect of teacher evaluations. The bill made a simple adjustment to existing law and required (rather than recommended) student test scores to be used in teacher evaluations. As a result, school districts lost control of nearly $40 million in federal grants allocated to low-income children. Additionally, parents across our state received letters that the school their children attended was failing.
This legislative session, the Republican-controlled state Senate passed a bill that would allow Washington State to regain its federal waiver—despite the WEA’s best efforts to thwart the bill. The Democrat-controlled state House has yet to give the legislation a hearing, proving just how little they care for public schools and how much they care about pleasing those who fund their campaigns.
- When Democrat lawmakers attacked a government transparency bill in order to protect special interests.
This legislative session, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee approved Senate Bill 5329. The bill would have opened government collective bargaining negotiations to the public by removing union exemptions from the state Open Public Meetings Act. Of course, the bill met significant resistance from Democrats. Their opposition granted valuable insight into the left’s non-existent commitment to government transparency, and over-zealous commitment to their big labor campaign donors.
During a committee hearing, Democrat Sen. Bob Hasegawa (a longtime Teamster official) expressed his bewilderment for why such a bill was even needed. Hasegawa said, “What does [seeing how the parties conduct themselves in collective bargaining] have to do with the public interest? I don’t see any compelling public interest need there.”
A Washington Policy Center expert, there to testify in favor of the bill, offered Hasegawa an explanation, pointing out the inherit public interest in government transparency particularly when a potential conflict of interest exists like the “governor secretly negotiating over public money opposite his biggest campaign donors. Of course, Hasegawa didn’t buy it.
Jay Inslee also refused to support the bill. He said he did not think opening negotiations to the public would “fruitful… We have the final result. It’s available for an up or down vote. That’s what really important.” Of course, that’s not true. Not since Gov. Gary Locke passed the labor-supported policy have outcomes of secret negotiations between Democrat governors and the unions that support them been made available for an up-or-down vote. Rather, it has always folded into the state budget, as is the case in this year’s House Democrats’ spending plan.
- When Democrat lawmakers exempted labor unions from their “workers’ rights” bills.
Democrat lawmakers have championed their support for a hike in the minimum wage and mandatory paid sick leave during this legislative session. Of course, these are policies Democrats support in order to appeal to public opinion. Conveniently, Democrats do not support these policies for all work sectors, particularly those sectors that contribute heavily to their campaigns.
The minimum wage/paid sick leave bills, a.k.a. the “workers’ rights” bills, sponsored by Democrats contained exemption provisions for labor unions. The true motivation behind the legislation was to encourage “employers to become union shops in order to take advantage of the exemptions.” The bill would make unionization a “low cost option for employers to avoid paying the otherwise mandated benefits.” More unionized employers means more union members which means more union dues, which means more campaign money for Democrat politicians.
Labor-backed Democrats in the state Senate revealed the true propose of the minimum wage/mandatory paid sick leave bills when they rejected a bill that sought to level the playing field and offer workers’ rights to all by eliminating the exemptions. Sens. Bob Hasegawa (a Teamster for 32 years and head of Local 174 for nine), Steve Conway (UFCW Local 81 secretary-treasurer for 21 years) and Karen Keiser (communications director of the Washington State Labor Council for 25 years) all voted against passing SB 5332, the amending bill, out of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.
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