Monday, April 29, 2013

Legislature Can't Get It Done, Adjourns

 Update: the Times has a good piece on this issue but says that if lawmakers were giving themselves a grade for education, it would be "incomplete."  C'mon legislators, you didn't get your work done in a timely manner.  I'm thinking the teachers out there would not simply say, "okay, an incomplete it is."

Yes, the "we can get it done" coalition didn't get it done in our state legislature.  The Governor has ordered a Special Session to start on May 13th.

I think the message here is that it takes more than being large and in charge to get things done.  Legislators HAVE to work together.

Frankly, I don't envy them as they have to worry over the mixed messages they get from voters.  Over and over, voters have said fund education.  Even the Supreme Court says that.  BUT, via Tim Eyman, we also vote "no new taxes."  That leaves legislators with,  all things being equal, continuing to slash social services and health care primarily to the poor and elderly.  Not a good choice.

I was astonished to learn of how many tax breaks that exist (especially for our friends at Boeing and Microsoft who like to lament the lack of STEM) and yet the legislators can't even find the will to take a few of those away (say, the beer one).  It is more important to the state to help micro-breweries than fund education?

The Washington State PTA has put forth a policy paper on the funding for basic education.  One key thing they point out is the need to consider what is and isn't "basic education."  An example is that 180-day school year is basic education.   Class size isn't.

Just as you teach what you test, you fund what is mandated.

From their policy paper:

Washington State PTA does not want access to full-day kindergarten,  small K-3 class sizes and adequate instructional time in middle and high school to be funded as “enhancements” – something the state can easily cut or something that can be pushed down to local school districts to fund via excess levy. We want them funded as part of “basic education” so the money will be stable and equitable. This is also why we have lobbied so hard for the expanded graduation requirements. We want all students to have access to the courses that will prepare them for family-wage work, advanced training or college.

In 2009, the state legislature agreed and with strong bipartisan support passed House Bill 2261 and broadened the definition of basic education.  So from a long-term perspective, the more money we can put into basic education, the more stable and equitable funding for everyone, across the state, will be. School districts can plan better if they know that they can rely on the funding.  

Some categorical funding is based on total basic education allocations, like funding for students enrolled in special education and highly capable programs. Boosting the basic education allocation will increase funding for those programs. Boosting enhancement funding, such as funds for school turnaround, will not. 

So when you hear something like “both House and Senate put a billion into education” you need to understand there is more to the story. The Senate proposed about $700 million for basic education. The House proposed $1.3 billion for basic education.  

All good considerations to consider and the time is NOW to contact your legislators and tell them what matters to you.  They need that backing to push for education funding. 


Disgusted said...

Because these folks are playing games, our district will begin looking at RIFs etc. due to budget uncertainties.

Eric B said...

I was pretty mightily ticked off when I heard the cheer after the gavel fell at the end of the session. You aren't done, guys. Failure to finish the job in the time allotted isn't worth a cheer. Polite applause, maybe.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, the beer tax in question was not a tax break or tax loophole. The governor proposed tripling the CURRENT taxes on small, independent breweries and the original House budget proposed doubling those current taxes. The House chose to jettison those proposed tax INCREASES after they made that case that these increases would cripple these small businesses.

Also, not all taxes are created equal. I would invite you to visit Fremont Brewing or Reuben's Brews (in Ballard) and you'll find families there with small children, dogs, home-cooked meals, etc., sitting around socializing and enjoying their communities. Both of these businesses also donate a lot of money to local non-profit organizations and schools. They are trying to be good community stewards and agree that schools should be ably funded. The owners are good people and don't want to have to make a choice between funding schools and growing their businesses. It's a false choice.

These tax increase proposals would have crippled these small, independent breweries and that would have been a bad thing.

--- someone who knows

Anonymous said...

Melissa, an example: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=a552bed510d2168d6aceffc0a&id=694ae4a3c5&e

--- someone who knows

Melissa Westbrook said...

So who IS going to pay more taxes? Or we just cut more services for the needy? OR we don't fully fund schools?

Something's gotta give.

Anonymous said...

About half the teachers my kid has, give a 0 for any late work. That means that if you can't do by the deadline, just don't bother, it has no value at all.

- not surprised

n said...

I'm not for raising taxes on small businesses. There are fat cats in this state who should be able to pay more. And as a currently middle class wage earner, I'd pay more. I don't understand how intelligent people think they can continue to get a quality environment, education and services without paying for them. And Gates and Hanauer should be willing to pay more. Common sense. Taxes provide quality. If they all leave the state, I don't care. We'll be poor in one of the most beautiful areas on the planet. They can take their coal trains with them.

Charlie Mas said...

As I understand it, the governor has to call for the special session.

What if he doesn't?

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I think the Governor has already called for the special session to begin on May 13.

--- someone who knows

Anonymous said...

n, I believe that both Gates and Hanauer have stated that they are willing to pay more taxes --- but what is the mechanism in our state for them to pay more taxes that doesn't affect middle class taxpayers and especially our poor citizens, who are paying a significantly higher percentage of whatever income they have through sales taxes? Without a state income tax, it's difficult to target taxes on those who can most afford to pay higher taxes.

Also, don't be so crass about the departure of some of our fat cats. Many progressives, who enjoy arts, music, etc., would be sorry to see Boeing, Microsoft, Paccar, etc. leave our state. The next time you go to an arts and/or music event, don't forget to look at the page in the program about who is sponsoring (with money) all of our city's great events.

--- someone who knows.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Someone who knows, Gates and company know what their money buys whether they spend it on arts or anything else.

Buying goodwill is still buying it.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, it must be nice to always know another person's motives. I'm sure you know that the people who make up the Boeing Company and the Mircrosoft Corporation only financially support the arts in order to buy goodwill. It's not possible that they altruistically support these important community endeavors. It's not possible because their motives are always self-interested. That's good to know.

--- someone who knows