Daily Sun says state Senate was right to withhold capital budget approval; The News Tribune calls for end to finger-pointing

The Sunnyside Daily Sun expressed strong editorial support for the state Senate’s refusal to adopt a capital budget without a permanent Hirst water rights fix. They frame the issue in familiar “urban v. rural” terms.

City dwellers and governmental bureaucrats building fiefdoms want money to continue to build and expand their empires. But here in rural Eastern Washington, water is king. And the right and ability to access water for our families, crops and livestock is far more important than widening another road, building another school or buying up more private land in the name of purported protection.

The inability to secure water stems from the state Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in the Hirst case, which ultimately stripped property owners of the ability to get a permit for a new well. That decision has cost Eastern Washington dearly, through lost development and jobs, and lost access to the water we need to sustain our families and livelihoods…

We applaud the Senate for withholding approval of the $4 billion proposed capital budget, at least until we can again have access to and control of our water.

We linked to other papers calling for passage of a capital budget and Hirst fix here, here, and here.

The News Tribune decries the legislative finger-pointing and hyperbole lingering in the wake of the legislative session. Hirst and the capital budget take center stage.

Failing to pass a two-year capital budget for the first time in memory leaves $4 billion in a lockbox. This is money that should be building schools and mental health facilities statewide, funds to prevent wildfires and homelessness, investments to boost local economies with infrastructure projects from Algona to Zillah.

Meanwhile, failing to resolve a water-rights impasse triggered by the state Supreme Court’s 2016 Hirst decision leaves decades of water law in confusion. For the foreseeable future, small rural landowners who need a water source might get more help from a dowsing rod than from the government’s well-permitting bureaucracy.

That “dowsing rod” line is pretty good. The editorial closes with a plea.

To resolve these two major issues, the governor may need to call a special session before the year is out. But there’s no point as long as the political spin machine keeps churning out angry accusations and unseemly exaggerations..

Now would be a good time for a ceasefire.

A Hirst fix and capital budget should be within the reach of lawmakers, even now. We hope so.