On Tuesday, April 4th, the Washington State Legislature will hit $60,000,000 in court ordered fines for not fully funding K-12 education. The organization Paramount Duty is asking people to write letters to the editor to highlight the issue.
We cannot fund K-12 schools at the expense of children’s health care, or higher education, or homeless services, or mental health services.
Great public schools are not only the key to providing Washington’s kids with an opportunity for a bright future; they are also the foundations of a prosperous state.
In a state that is home to world-class companies, Washington has the wealth to ensure every Washington student receives a world-class education.
The legislature’s paramount duty is to fund our schools, not to keep taxes low on rich people and large corporations.
We know from the experience of Kansas that slashing taxes and cutting school budgets hurts the economy. It causes businesses and workers to flee. We know from the experience of states like California that raising revenues for education by targeting those with the greatest ability to pay is very good for the economy.
Skilled workers and businesses want to stay in a state with fully funded good schools. That is part of our competitive advantage. It’s one reason why our innovative companies haven’t left for Kansas or Mississippi.
Washington needs new revenue to ensure our schools are providing students with an excellent education.
Our tax system is upside down. The people with the lowest incomes pay seven times more in taxes as a share of personal income than the richest 1 percent. This upside-down system must be fixed if we’re going to be able to generate the revenues need to fund our schools.
GOP Budget-Specific Talking Points:
There are a lot of poor and low-income people all across this state who are suddenly being defined as "rich" and are facing a huge $5.5 billion property tax increase.
This also includes huge cuts to programs that helps the poorest kids in the state - cuts to ECEAP preschools, to TANF which helps poor families, cuts to housing and homeless services.
We cannot accept a plan that funds our schools by taking food and shelter away from children or their parents. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of low-income families.
We are also concerned about the impact of this plan on our classrooms.
We believe the per pupil model isn't actually transparent. It just gives money to principals to spend as they want, like a block grant, making them choose between special education, ELL, school buses, school nurses, smaller class sizes or experienced teachers. Can't drop a huge change like this on the state without much more discussion and planning. Not appropriate to do through the budget process.
This budget hurts special education funding, as it doesn't fund what districts already pay today.
This includes cuts to local voter-approved education enhancements like clubs, sports, and after school programs without the assurance that local districts can replace lost funds.
Republicans’ Education Funding Proposal:
The Republicans' plan is unacceptable. It fails our children, our Constitution, and the courts. It also fails those we need to most protect: our mentally ill, our homeless, our youngsters in need, and those who have no where else to turn. If this was an assignment it would receive an F. You cannot divide us—we will stand together against this draconian budget proposal.
This budget proposal cuts funding from other crucial state services and programs, which is unacceptable. And it doesn't fully fund public schools, which is also a nonstarter.
During the floor debate on the education plan, Senate Republicans discussed equity in terms of property tax payer equity. But equity for taxpayers means taxing those who can afford it and are currently ducking paying their fare share through Washington's 600 tax loopholes.
It is unacceptable to cut $1.5 billion from critical services and other education programs. And, the Senate Republican plan is still billions of dollars short of what the Constitution guarantees
There is no possible way this budget proposal complies with McCleary or the Constitution. It certainly isn't moral either.
Big corporations in rural areas like Walmart, Boeing, and Avista would get a huge decrease in their property tax bills.
The Republicans are choosing to raise a regressive tax on the hardworking families rather than ask the richest 1% and the corporate special interests to pay their fair share.
This is a massive property tax increase to millions of taxpayers, even those in low-income communities (and could be worsened by Tim Eyman's latest initiative).
This proposal makes our tax system much more regressive.
The Republicans' plan is a back-door massive property tax cut for large corporations such as Walmart, Puget Sound Energy, Avista, and Boeing.
This caps teacher pay, which will worsen the teacher shortage.
The Republicans propose completely eliminating the voter-approved smaller class size measure. Research has shown that small class sizes are one of the most important ways to help improve student learning
The Republican plan takes away key protections ensuring special education students’ needs are met. It also dispenses with giving additional funding based on Free/Reduced Lunch numbers, and instead uses the arcane national poverty line.
The Republicans' “per-pupil” model eliminates guarantees ensuring that students across the state get the same basic, equitable services and programs. It puts huge amounts of money under the control of unaccountable bureaucrats.