01/30/2006: "The War on Growth"
Rain has not stopped them. Exaggerating about how often it rains has not stopped them. Sadly, people keep moving here. It is a fact of life that once a person moves here they want to stop growth. They look to government for help. So our government fights this war on growth with one finger in the dike while water floods in from every direction.
This war on growth is being fought on two fronts, migration and procreation. Let us review the strategies our State Government has used to win this war.
Raising taxes is one method of slowing growth. Jobs bring population migration into the state. High taxes drive businesses and jobs away. Some politicians advocate raising taxes to slow growth. Others do it unintentionally not understanding the negative consequences of lost jobs and tax revenue. Either way it is not the answer.
I remember vividly watching a news conference with then Governor Gary Locke (D), Senators Murray (D) and Cantwell (D), standing with Boeing executives, and promising them a tax cut so they would stay in Washington. This group of politicians is not famous for cutting taxes, and yet they knew for a fact that tax cuts in this case would create revenue and jobs for our State. But it was too little too late. Now Boeing is the corporation from Chicago.
The moral of the story is that if you want people to keep their jobs and want to increase tax revenue, you should lower taxes, not raise them. Increasing taxes does not stop growth, but it does change who can afford to live and do business here.
The Growth Management Act (GMA) was the next weapon in the war on growth. Too many people were migrating to Washington. Rain did not dampen their spirits. So our government decided that these new people would live in urban areas. In this way politicians and the environmental interest groups that controlled them, thought they could slow growth and protect "rural character".
The main idea was to "cluster" people into "urban growth areas" to prevent "sprawl". We now have a population explosion in these areas that has overloaded the basic infrastructure and caused gridlock on the highways. We need more taxes now to rebuild systems that were never intended to accommodate so many people. GMA has not slowed the flood of growth. It has just shifted people around.
On the second front, procreation is causing too much growth. The government has unveiled new weapons to stop people from having kids. Apparently, abortion on demand, same sex marriage, and distribution of condoms in the grade schools, have not been effective enough weapons to slow population growth.
So a new Bill has been introduced in our State House of Representatives to lessen the occurrence of babies. I am not making this up. Legislation sponsored by Representative Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline), is the latest "smart bomb" in the war on growth. Under this bill, your tax dollars would be used to fund outreach and education programs designed to convince your children not to have children. If they procreate they might contribute to the dreaded "sprawl". HB 3121 would require local jurisdictions to consider "population sustainability" under the Growth Management Act. This new GMA Element requires public education and outreach emphasizing the benefits of family planning within the context of land use decisions. How weird can it get?
I personally don't know anybody that wants more people to move here. I would like to return to the old days. That is a fantasy. Yet it seems like the majority of politicians in Olympia are living that fantasy and refusing to face reality. The silly "finger in the dike" solutions they offer only make things worse.
It is time to change out these well-intentioned but unrealistic ideologues and replace them with leaders with a clear and real vision. Growth is inevitable. We need leaders that understand this. We need leaders who know how to plan and budget for growth instead of wasting our resources fighting a ridiculous war against it.