Document 43: Initiative 172

Voters' pamphlet for the General Election held Tuesday, November 2, 1948. (Copy from the Washington Pension Union papers, University of Washington, Manuscripts and Archives, accession 185-1, folder 7/5.)

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State of Washington,
Voters' Pamphlet for the General Election to be held
Tuesday, November 2, 1948
Initiative Measure No. 172

"An Act relating to Citizens' Security, providing a minimum standard of living of sixty dollars ($60) a month for needy Senior Citizens and needy Blind, establishing uniform standards for eligibility and amounts of assistance for all categories of public assistance, providing for additional care and funeral benefits, providing for administrative procedures and conformance with Federal Social Security laws, abolishing liens, repealing certain acts and parts of acts in conflict herewith, and appropriating six million five hundred thousand dollars ($6,500,000)."

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Washington:

SECTION 1. Title. This act shall be known, and may be cited as the "Citizens' Security Act of 1948 of the State of Washington."

SEC. 2. Declaration of Intent. . . . The Senior Citizens of the State of Washington are our pioneer citizens. It is their years of labor, of paying taxes, of raising families, of citizenship service which has built our great State of Washington. Through no fault of their own, a large proportion of them find themselves, in their seniority, robbed of security and in need of both financial and medical assistance. Increasingly throughout the United States the realization is growing that the only adequate and just solution is a uniform national pension paid as a matter of right, not need. Until such a national pension is enacted, it is the duty of the State of Washington at least to provide for its own people a minimum of security, and to guarantee them, as far as it is within the state's power to do so, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

The payment of liberal pensions is not just a matter of humanity and justice; the lack of purchasing power in the hands of such an increasingly large proportion of our population is a contributing factor in causing economic depressions, and the payment of liberal pensions helps to create a market for the products of labor, agriculture and industry.

It is also the intent to apply certain provisions of this act in determining grants of Aid to Dependent Children, Aid to the Blind and General Assistance. No sound basis can be found for varying the standards of assistance according to the categories of the recipients. While this act is intended to assure uniformity of treatment of all needy persons receiving public assistance, it is intended to establish the $60 monthly minimum grant for the Senior Citizens and the Blind only. . . .

SEC. 4. Eligibility. A Senior Citizen Grant shall be awarded to any person who:

(a) Has attained the age of sixty-five, and

(b) Has been a resident of the State of Washington for at least five years within the last ten, and

(c) Is not an inmate of a public institution of a custodial, correctional or curative character: Provided, That this shall not prevent the department from paying a grant to meet the incidental and personal needs of a Senior Citizen who is an inmate of a county hospital or infirmary, and . . .

(e) Is in need; for the purpose of this act a person shall be considered to be in need who does not have income and resources sufficient to provide himself and dependents with food, clothing, shelter and such other items as are necessary to afford a reasonable subsistence. . . . [Each] Senior Citizen [with] a standard of living of less than $60 per month [shall be considered to be in need].

SEC. 5. How and When Grants Shall be Paid. Grants shall be awarded on a uniform state-wide basis to each eligible applicant or recipient for the purpose of assisting him to meet his needs, Provided:

(1) That such grant when added to his income shall equal not less than $60 a month. . . . The ability of relatives or friends of the applicant or recipient to contribute to the support of applicant or recipient shall not be considered [income or a financial resource]. . .

SEC. 11. Age and Length of Residence Verification. Proof of age and length of residence in the state of any applicant may be established as provided by the rules and regulations of the Department: Provided, That if an applicant is unable to establish proof of age or length of residence in state by any other method he may make a statement under oath of his age . . . or the length of his residence in the state, before any judge of the Superior Court or any Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Washington, and such statement shall constitute sufficient proof of age of applicant or of length of residence in the state: Provided, however, That any applicant who shall willfully make a false statement as to his age or length of residence in the state under oath before a judge of the Superior Court or a Justice of the Supreme Court, as provided above, shall be guilty of a felony. . . .

SEC. 13. Funeral Expenses. Upon the death of any recipient under this act, funeral expenses in the sum of $100 shall be paid by the Department toward the total cost of the funeral. . . .

SEC. 15. Additional Care. In addition to Senior Citizen Grants, each recipient who is in need of medical and dental and other care to restore his health shall receive:

(a) Medical and dental care by a practitioner of any of the healing arts licensed by the State of Washington of recipient's own choice.

(b) Nursing care in applicant's home and hospital care as prescribed by applicant's doctor, and ambulance service.

(c) Medicine, drugs, optical supplies, glasses, medical and pharmaceutical supplies, artificial limbs, hearing aids, and other appliances prescribed as necessary. . . .[T]his section shall be financed from state and county funds. . . . [This section] shall apply equally in all categories of public assistance. . . .

SEC. 19. The Legislature shall appropriate an amount sufficient to carry out the purposes of this act. . . .


Dear Fellow Citizen: Initiative 172 provides minimum grants of $60 a month for Senior Citizens and the blind. . . . 172 provides medical and dental care by a practitioner of any of the healing arts licensed by the State of Washington, and of the recipient's own choice. These important provisions, together with some minor benefits, are intended to deal more justly and fairly with persons receiving public assistance than the present laws provide. . . .

[This law] will reassure the Senior Citizens that Washington's voters do not regard them as "second-class citizens" or "thriftless n'er-do-wells," but rather honor them as the pioneer builders of our state. . . .

172 will benefit YOU, if you work for a living, by reducing the number of older workers competing for jobs on the labor market. If you are a businessman or farmer, 172 will increase the purchasing power of your customers. 172 is being fought only by that small handful who put private greed above public need! . . . 172 is a moderate, but important, step toward winning freedom from want and fear.

DON'T BE MISLED BY CRIES THAT "172 will bankrupt the state." . . . 172 will not jeopardize full appropriations for schools, veterans, and other vital state functions. Remember -- Washington is the fourth wealthiest state in the Union, and as of July 1, 1948, had a surplus of over $60,000,000 in the General Fund. . . .

We welcome requests for more information on 172. Write to the organizations below.





Under present law the State of Washington has the most liberal program of assistance to the needy of any state in the Union. . . . We spend more per capita than any other state but one for this purpose. . . .

This [level of assistance to the needy] would be jeopardized by the passage of Initiative 172, which thoughtful citizens will vote AGAINST.

By adding untold millions to the cost of public welfare, Initiative 172 would endanger every other function of the state government. Public welfare is already the single largest state expenditure, taking money that otherwise could go toward support of schools and other services. Friends of the schools will vote AGAINST Initiative 172.

No one knows what total costs may result, so loosely is the proposed legislation drawn. Its own proponents estimate the additional cost in excess of $1,000,000 per month. But they also state: "$60 will be the minimum pension paid. Grants will, in most cases, go much higher. $60 is the floor-and there is no ceiling." . . .

The same left-wing faction now sponsoring Initiative 172 succeeded in forcing a similar measure through the 1945 Legislature that [created] a deficit of $12,000,000 [until this law was repealed by the 1947 legislature]. . . .

Do not be fooled by the left-wing's hysterical name-calling. . . . Initiative 172 would remain a return to confusion, uncertainty, and unlimited deficit. . . .

Do not be fooled by wild stories of an imagined state surplus that will make the payment of unlimited pensions painless. Actually, [Washington is] currently operating "in the red."

Do not be fooled. Initiative 172 does not give something for nothing. Its passage means either higher taxes or less money for other purposes. And your state is now the highest taxed in the Union. Unless you want higher taxes or fewer schools and other services, you will vote AGAINST Initiative 172.

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest