Referendum 52 is a stimulus bill. It is supposed to work like any government-induced economic booster: We collectively borrow a large sum of money, spend it on public projects which require the hiring of workers, and thereby inject money into the economy through their pockets. We “create jobs,” encourage spending, roll money through the economy, and get some good public projects as a byproduct.
These schemes, of course, rarely if ever work as well as their proponents claim. If they did, Referendum 52 wouldn’t be necessary, since we have been bathing the economy in borrowed dollars for some time. Instead, experience shows they are just as likely to increase the public debt now and in the future to fund projects of dubious necessity and create few short-lived jobs. The public benefit is questionable; the debt is all too real. Referendum 52 deserves a no vote.
Referendum 52 would authorize the sale of $505 million in state bonds, proceeds to be sent out in grants for energy-saving projects at schools, colleges and other public facilities. The intention is to create “green jobs,” save energy, improve school buildings and boost the economy. The debt would be repaid by making permanent the sales tax on bottled water, which itself was sold as an environmental improvement.
This plan is presented to us as a referendum because the bond sale would break through the state’s constitutional debt limit. This is an especially bad idea for a state already very heavily is debt, to borrow more for projects that may or may not save energy, produce little savings, may or may not create many jobs, all funded by a tax that should and likely will be repealed by another competing initiative. Referendum 52 seems to emphasize spending as much money as possible as quickly as possible, regardless of the future burden created. If projects save as much energy as the grant applicants will claim, then good, but don’t count on it.
This is wrong time to go further in debt, and we should know by now that permanent jobs are not so easily created. Everyone senses that. The point should be emphasized with a no vote on Referendum 52.
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Editor and Publisher Rufus Woods, Managing Editor Cal FitzSimmons, Chief Financial Officer Janine Bakken and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.