Legislators: New Re-Open Plan “Inequitable” Towards Some Counties
It's not just businesses and citizens who've noticed, nor just local county and health officials. Now legislators are demanding Gov. Inslee re-examine and change his Healthy Washington Re-Open plan. A group of GOP Senators and Legislators from virtually every legislative District in Eastern and Central WA have sent a letter to the Governor, demanding changes.
Healthy Washington-A Roadmap to Recovery is the fancy title for a rehashed version of his failed Safe Start Plan; except this time the state is lumped into 8 regions. And that's what has legislators furious.
Rep. Tom Dent, (R) who serves Moses Lake-Grant County, and the other 39 Senators and House Reps, say counties such as Kittitas (Ellensburg), Garfield (Pomeroy), Columbia (Dayton) and othes are being unfairly 'punished' and held down because they're dependend upon the 'numbers' and criteria from larger counties in their region.
The South Central Region includes Kittitas and Columbia, along with Yakima, Benton and Franklin Counties. Dent argued in part:
"Kittitas County is going to be stuck in Phase 1 much longer than they need to be, because the urban areas to the south are inflating the region's COVID metrics. It doesn't make sense and it isn't fair to those counties and the communities in regions with lower numbers.”
He was referring to Yakima County's figures. The reps from these larger counties are not insulted by these arguments; they agree that each county should have been left alone. Most of the state was mired in modified Phase 1.5 or Phase 2 or Modified Phase 2 when this new plan came out; when in reality many of them were ready for Phase 3.
Dent also pointed to a number of smaller Eastern Washington towns who are being held down economically because they're in the same region as Spokane.
Dent went on to say:
“I am getting inundated with email and phone calls. Folks are frustrated, upset, depressed and don't know what to do. You can hear the worry and concern in their voice. You truly feel for these people. I want to do anything I can to help...”
It has not been lost on observers that more and more GOP leaders and opponents are using one of Inslee's favorite buzzwords, "inequity," against him when it comes to his plans and agendas that actually end up hurting certain groups of citizens as well as business.
The letter was signed by every member of the 9th District (North Franklin County, Adams and Whitman) as well as Senator Sharon Brown, and Reps. Matt Boehnke and Brad Klippert from the 8th (Benton County-Kennewick-Richland).
It was also signed by all the 16th District legislators (eastern Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla County).
To read the letter, click on the button below.