The editorial board of the Tri-City Herald is the latest to weigh in on the ongoing negotiations between Jay Inslee’s administration and the state’s public employee unions – and ask for them to “be open to public scrutiny.”
The amount of money involved in the union negotiations is significant – a 1% pay increase for employees would be “about $154 million” in the next two-year budget cycle. Even when economic times are good that’s a hefty hit on the public treasury, but given the slow recovery the state finds itself in today, those type of dollars mean taking money away from other state priorities – like public education.
Yet, the public is excluded from the conversation, as the Herald points: “The taxpayer is locked out of every aspect of the process, except for writing the check, of course.”
Inslee and the unions leaders undoubtedly like it that way, because if the negotiations were open, the public could readily see that they are really negotiating from the same side of the table. As the Herald points out, “Raises are a foregone conclusion. Inslee is beholden to public employee unions for helping put him in the governor’s mansion.”
The paper rightly notes that some pay increases may be justified, though it’s worth remembering that most public employees get “step increases” each year even without a negotiated raise. But, “that discussion should occur in the public eye, where voters can hold officials accountable. Both sides in the negotiations work for us. We deserve the transparency needed to hold all accountable.”