Politics & Government

GOP lawmakers cry foul over failing grades on racial equality

OLYMPIA — Republicans in the Washington state Legislature railed against a report published by a progressive group claiming they "failed" in supporting racial equality.

The report graded the Legislature and individual lawmakers on an A to F scale based on their votes on 34 bills introduced during the 2009 legislative session that the group claimed addressed issues of civil rights, institutional racism and economic justice.

The report was published by the Northwest Federation of Community Organizers in conjunction with 20 other progressive activists or minority interest groups.

Some of the legislation they examined directly affected racial equality, such as bills proposing to remediate racial disproportionality in child welfare practices or to create a committee to study Latinos' access to higher education.

Others had more tenuous connections, such as a bill proposing a high-earner income tax. The report said Washington's tax structure, which relies heavily on sales and property taxes with no income tax imposed, places a higher burden on low-income people, including minorities.

The report included a "report card" grading each member of the Legislature in categories including civil rights, education, health, economic justice, housing, tribal affairs and criminal justice.

Lawmakers got extra credit if they wrote bills the group believed promoted racial equality, while those who wrote bills deemed to exacerbate racial disparities got demerits.

A handful of Democrats received scores over 100 on a scale of 0 to 100 points. Anything over 90 points was an A, 80-89 was a B, 70-79 a C, 60-69 a D, and less than 60 rated an F grade.

While the Legislature as a whole averaged a D grade, nearly every Republican in both the House and Senate — and every lawmaker from the Mid-Columbia — got an F.

Some received as few as 19 points on the scale.

But Republicans say the report is little more than liberal claptrap that takes a narrow view of racial equality based on a handful of bills designed to promote a progressive agenda.

Read more at Tri-CityHerald.com