The Seattle Times wrote an editorial to discourage people from signing petitions to put Initiative 1351, Class Size Reduction, on the ballot. The editorial was, of course, full of lies, misrepresentations, and unprincipled statements.
I don't know where other people stand on initiatives. Lots of states don't have an initiative process. They are certainly open to abuse. We have seen Costco use the initiative process to buy themselves the law that allows them to sell liquor. We have seen a dozen millionaires and billionaires use the initiative process to buy a charter school law. Tim Eyman writes frivilous initiatives to provide himself an income as the manager of the campaign. There was a time when Tim Eyman was the de facto political leader of this state - it was a time when there was no leadership coming from Olympia.
A number of Mr. Eyman's initiatives, though successful at the ballot box, were reversed by the Court because they failed to meet constitutional requirements. A number of other initiatives which won approval were also revealed to be badly written law. Right now there is a legal case being argued about the constitutionality of I-1240, the Charter School initiative. It is also undergoing some legislative corrections and refinements to fix some of the bad drafting.
Initiatives have also created a number of unfunded mandates. They have to. The law requires that an initiative be about just one thing. If it included a funding source then it would be about two things - the spending and the revenue. So all initiatives, by design, are unfunded mandates.
Despite all of this, there is also a proper role for initiatives. They can allow the state to take necessary action when the political leadership in Olympia is frozen, broken, or going wrong. That pretty much describes the current status when it comes to public education. The Court has ruled, but the legislature is clearly incapable of taking the necessary action. Now comes this initiative to direct immediate action on at least some of the work. When the leaders fail to lead, then the People need to take the lead. That's what we're seeing here.