Monday, April 06, 2009

The Times Weighs in on Education Cuts with a Compelling Question

This editorial appeared in today's Times. Their opening sentence is pretty blunt:

"The cuts in state money for public schools in the proposed Senate and House budgets are unnecessarily deep. They need to be shifted to programs less urgent."

Their discussion was over cutting a state program for adults who can't work but aren't covered by other programs. Their take:

"Some in the Legislature would save the unemployable program and cut public education on the belief that the people would vote to tax themselves to save education. But what if they don't?"

That's a big gamble on the part of the Legislature (if, indeed, that's the thinking; make cuts in education and ask voters to pay more elsewhere to restore them) and a big question. Would voters, some of whom aren't parents with school-aged kids and some of whom have very bad opinions of public education anyway, vote to add more taxes to their bill?

I think the answer might be a very scary no. And then what? Dip into the state reserves even more to restore cuts they thought voters would pay for?


WenD said...

This - is - a scary question.

Melissa, I agreed with your stance on the levy vote. Your position wasn't universally popular, but I understood your reasoning and agreed with you. As more of us pay attention to how SPS can't bear up under scrutiny for any of their moves, then yes, they're taking a big risk betting on more tax dollars. SPS refuses to show transparency, never mind effectiveness, with the monies they've been handling for decades. Case in point: their mismanagement of buildings is astonishing.

Honest to G-d, that conspiracy about SPS being made ripe for charters is looking more plausible by the day.

zb said...

Ah, but what's the solution? Though the voters might turn down a school levy and let our children suffer, they'd most certainly turn down a levy to help unemployable adults (because adults should take care of themselves). So then what? hoovervilles?

Maybe there are things out there we can cut (the subsidy for the ice skating tournament seems like a possibility, though it's just nickels, and it might really be an economic investment, n the short term). But, mostly, we're now cutting things that are needs, and not wants, anyway.

seattle citizen said...

I can't believe we are continuing with some of these transportation projects in light of reduced budgets. I know that the governments (Seattle and WA) are counting on stimulus dollars, which would emply people in construction, but it just seems strange to, say, revamp Mercer street down there at Westlake while closing facilities and laying off workers at city and state levels...

WV says that while I want to wax poetic, due to the urgency of the situation I should be danterse.

ParentofThree said...

That is a tough one, just look at this weeks SSB agenda:

$600K for temporary portables at Hale.
$1.4 millon for change orders at Garfield

and possibly approving the purchase for dismal high school math materials. What, another million bucks there?

One board meeting!

I am going to have a tough time handing them more levy money and I have very young children in SPS!

Mr. Edelman said...

I think the evidence is that the Democratic caucus is in disarray. Some Senators (Lisa Brown, Jeanne Kohl-Welles) have been floating the idea of an income tax or a "high incomes" income tax. Others have been openly skeptical of the idea, and the governor has opposed it outright.

Rep. Hans Dunshee has proposed a $3 billion bond initiative for school capital projects. Presumably, if such a bond issue passed, then the state could shift money from the state lottery (which funded I-728 until 2005) back to I-728, which is where some of the biggest cuts are. The governor has expressed interest, and Frank Chopp is taking it seriously. However, other Democrats are, again, expressing skepticism.

Sen. Rodney Tom has stated outright that we're going to have to live with an all-cuts budget.

There is no unified leadership in Olympia. It's a disgrace.

Charlie Mas said...

There has not been leadership from the state legislature in my memory. It was that vacuum of leadership and decisiveness that created space for Tim Eyman and government by referendum.

The governor isn't exactly providing any direction either. She is dithering just like previous governors dithered.

It's like some sort of horrible Dilbert cartoon in which people avoid criticism by doing nothing.