Education for All
The Education Huddle has decided that the most important current focus for action is Washington State funding for Basic Education, K-12. This is the biggest part of the Washington State Operating Budget, currently under consideration in Olympia.
Under Washington State’s Constitution, it is the “paramount duty of the state to make ample provision” for public education. In 2012, following the McCleary decision, the court gave the state until 2018 to live up its mandate. The legislature is currently in contempt of the Washington State Supreme Court for its failure to comply, and the $100,000 daily fines now amount to over $60 million.
The legislature’s 105-day Regular Session is over, the legislature is in special session. In 2015, the legislature met into July!
The Republican-controlled Senate’s “Education First” budget would pay for increased school support through reduction of state funding in other budget areas (social services), their expected increase in economic growth and state revenue, and a “levy swap,” a complex move that produces no additional revenue. (The "levy swap" is described in the backgrounder.)
The Democratic-majority supported House Budget retains funding for social services (mental health!) and increases funding for education without a levy swap. Tax reform is part of their revenue plan, including a new Capital Gains Tax, ending some tax preferences ("loopholes"), and changes to the Business and Occupation Tax.
In order to arrive at your own informed opinion, and to advocate from a base of understanding, we encourage you to read the backgrounder presented at the Big Huddle in Port Townsend on April 18, 2017.
Contact Education for All
Contact your state legislators to say that you:
support full state funding of basic education, including raises for school employees and smaller class sizes;
support full funding of social services, particularly mental health;
support maintaining local school levies;
support the House tax reform proposals: capital gains tax, changes to the B & O tax, and closing tax preferences (“loopholes”);
support the state worker wage increases negotiated by the governor;
support passage of specific house bills you see awaiting approval in the Senate (you’ll have to do a little homework);
Contact state legislators on the education committees and budget committees with the same message.
Ask friends to speak up, especially if they’re represented by a Senate Republican.