Tim Eyman refiles HB 1415 as initiative to the people, labels it “Fund Education First” (with what money, Tim?)

Rethinking and Reframing

Yesterday, presumably while he was at the state’s Capitol Campus to testify on a bill he didn’t like, Tim Eyman filed three more initiatives, bringing the total number he’s filed so far this year to eight. The first two are titled “Son of 1053” and “Son of 1125” (and they are comprised of provisions recycled from Eyman’s last two initiatives.)

But the third initiative is altogether different. Eyman filed it under the title “Fund Education First” (no, we’re not joking). However, Eyman didn’t write it. It appears to be a carbon copy of House Bill 1415, filed a year ago by House Republicans. HB 1415 is a short, four-provision bill that would require the Legislature to appropriate funding for Washington’s K-12 schools before appropriating revenue to fund other services.

The full text can be found at the Legislature’s website.

It appears that Eyman has simply lifted the text of the bill in its entirety and is using it as a first draft of an initiative to the people (an initiative he probably has no intention of running). The text will now be reworked by the Code Reviser’s office – at taxpayer expense! – into a format appropriate for an initiative, perhaps with editorial commentary written by Eyman inserted as a preface.

The last provision of HB 1415, by the way, ties the legislation to the fate of a proposed constitutional amendment. This provision will probably be deleted by the Code Reviser’s office since it makes no sense to keep it in.

This act takes effect January 1, 2012, if the proposed amendment to Article IX of the state Constitution HJR . . . . (H-0681.1/11) is validly submitted to and is approved and ratified by the voters at the next general election. If the proposed amendment is not approved and ratified, this act is void in its entirety.

We think it’s beyond ironic that Tim Eyman has filed an initiative to “fund education first”. His own initiatives have made funding vital public services like our public schools nearly impossible. Many schools and school districts have only managed to stave off financial disaster because they’ve been able to raise money through voter-approved levies and bonds or through Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fundraising.

Years of Eyman initiatives have taken a serious toll on our state’s commonwealth. Many of Eyman’s most destructive schemes have been explicitly designed to prevent the Legislature from acting to solve the problem. And Washington’s youth are paying the price. They aren’t getting the education they deserve – the education that the Constitution of Washington State requires us as a society to provide.

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

It is up to us to make our Constitution a living document. If we don’t uphold our Constitution, its provisions become nothing more than words on a page. Our Founding Fathers gave us an enduring plan of government which calls for majority rule with minority rights. Unfortunately, majority rule has now been sabotaged by multiple Tim Eyman initiatives, which have also indirectly harmed all of the public services our commonwealth pays for.

The disingenuous “Fund education first” mantra that Eyman and others are propagating must be rejected. We cannot fund our schools by taking away funding from our universities, corrections system, social safety net, state parks, or other services. That’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. There are no shortcuts we can take, or corners we can cut, that will get us out of this mess. There is no free lunch. A moral budget ultimately comes down to math, for public services cost money. And we are not raising enough money to pay for the services we want and need.

We are clearly not asking enough of ourselves. We need to stop dithering, backfilling, and sliding. That means raising taxes and beginning to work on addressing our broken tax structure so that we can sustain our commonwealth long-term.

Yes, times are tough. But recessions are precisely when we depend on our public services the most. Austerity measures will not help our economy recover. They create a vicious cycle that leads to more gloom and unemployment. We can only break that cycle by strengthening our commonwealth.

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