Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, issued the following statement in response to the news that the House has refused a permanent Hirst fix:
House Democrats are being led by Seattle special interests that think that city water magically appears out of pipes in the wall but rural water taken from wells is a threat to the environment. Newsflash to urban dwellers—your water comes from rural areas. The differences are that no court suddenly decided you need to pay $20,000-$30,000 to hook up to city water and unlike the majority of well-water, the city water you use doesn’t return to the aquifer from which it came.
Neither the House nor the governor showed any real interest in solving the Hirst issue. In late April, our absentee governor admitted to no real understanding of the Hirst fix. Ironically, the governor that constantly warns of global warming causing drought is aiding the court-ordered manufacturing of a water shortage. The House has been moving the goalposts up to their pre-planned press conference where they shed crocodile tears at not getting a Hirst fix they never wanted.
The governor displays a total lack of understanding of how lending works. Who in their right mind thinks that lenders will want to loan money on a property that could have water rights revoked in 24 months? House Democrats holding a two-year delay up as a solution are fooling themselves and selling out rural Washington. Unless they are willing to open up a bank to loan money on these properties, I would not call their plan a fix but a complete, predestined, purposeful failure.
Failing to fix Hirst means lower property values which means lower revenues for state and local services that House Democrats claimed to champion. But when push came to shove, they chose their special interests groups over the working men and women in the rural areas of Washington. This means up to a $200 million property tax shortfall over 4 years with the devalued properties hurting schools and local economies—and no, a bottled water tax is not going to make up the difference.
To open this session, Inslee commuted death sentences for murderers and rapists. To close the session, he is ushering in a death sentence for rural Washington. It’s a shameful slap in the face to those of us living outside urban centers.