Affirmative action is on your ballot — how are you voting?
Dave Ross hosted a debate at the KIRO Radio studio to hear both arguments on affirmative action. Democrat and former state representative Jesse Wineberry wants you to vote yes on Referendum 88. Republican state senator Shelly Short in Spokane wants you to vote no.
A yes vote will allow public educators and employers to consider age, race, gender and veteran status during admissions and hiring decisions, but only when all qualifications among candidates are equal.
The initiative hopes to increase diversity in the workforce and in universities. Washington is currently one of only eight states in the country that bans affirmative action.
That’s thanks to a Tim Eyman initiative from 1998, I-200, designed to prevent employers or admissions committees from selecting a less qualified applicant over a more deserving applicant, simply to fill a quota.
Rep. Wineberry says the new legislation still bans that kind of situation from happening.
But Senator Short isn’t convinced. Quotas are one of her concerns.
“You’ve got this massive bureaucracy that is going to be passed with reports back to the governor as well as enforcement,” Senator Short said. “My time in the Legislature has always been that numbers matter … and so I actually believe it is going to engage and become a quota issue.”
Another point of contention is how the new rules will apply to veterans. Currently, veterans do receive preferential treatment in hiring and admissions decisions, in the form of a straightforward score increase. Sen. Short argues that adding veterans to the affirmative action bill “waters down” that perk, by only allowing veteran status to be considered after all other qualifications are equal.
Rep. Wineberry disputes that, and says the current system of preferential treatment for veterans will remain in place.
“The majority of the people that I-1000 is going to benefit, are the people in Washington state who are 40 years and older,” Rep. Wineberry said. “I’m supporting it as a guy who’s 64, about to be 65 in February.”
You can listen to the full debate on Dave Ross’s podcast, Ross Files.