Out of My Mind, May 24, 2012

Amazing how much we can agree on

About twice a year I get the chance to have lunch with our state representatives for the Seventh District, Joel Kretz from Wauconda and Shelly Short from Addy.
It’s always pleasant to get together with these two legislators, even if our political philosophies are sometimes worlds apart. However, it’s amazing on how much we can agree – especially when it comes to our home district. There is a tendency for elected officials in Olympia, especially those on the urban west side of the state to forget their more agrarian, resource-based, rural brethren in Eastern Washington. And the agencies that are supposed to be looking out for our best interests are more likely to be focused on west side issues.
Our problems are not always their problems, and even when they are, the solutions aren’t always the same. Even the blind man can see that we are two Washingtons – and I’m not talking DC either. Wet and lush on one side and dry and often sparse on the other. In the words my best friend’s late mother when her husband drove her across the country to take a job out here, “I think God rested too soon.” To those of us that live here we know that God didn’t rest too soon and we love Eastern Washington for what it is and I like to think my friend’s German-born mother came to think so too.
As Rep. Short says in this week’s front page article, things like stormwater regulations have to be fine tuned to the two different Washingtons. That make sense from both a practical and a best scientific practices point of view. If the people at Ecology can’t see that then they’re the ones that are blind or being disingenuous with us.
Threatening rural Washington with taking away money for county fairs is one thing, but getting rid of Levy Equalization or Critical Access funding for hospitals are entirely different matters. We shouldn’t have to decide on one or the other – educating our children is part of the state’s mandate, not a choice – other things like buying more park land when we can’t afford what we have now, are supposed to come second and only when revenue allows. Making sure we have enough funding for our hospitals should also be a no brainer but having so little representation in rural Washington compared to urban Washington we often get treated like second class citizens in our own state.
What’s especially interesting talking to Kretz and Short about the past legislative sessions is what a reverse Washington seems to be over other states where the Republicans are in control. We hear a lot nowadays about how those Republican legislators have been concentrating more on social issues than on things like poor economies and getting the actual work of the people done. In Washington it seems these Republicans are making the same argument where the Democrats are concerned. It truly depends who is in power I guess, however, our two state representatives don’t give me the impression that if the tables were reversed they’d do anything differently than fight for what they believe is best for rural Washington and leave the social issues to someone else.