January 9th, 2014
I-1325 would contravene the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision
Today, while Tim Eyman was busy trying to generate more publicity for his latest initiative by confronting House Speaker Frank Chopp in the statehouse, the Washington State Supreme Court ordered the State of Washington to submit, no later than April 30th, 2014, a “complete plan for fully implementing its program of basic education for each school year between now and the 2017-2018 school year.”
This plan must address each of the areas of K-12 education identified in ESHB 2261, as well as the implementation plan called for by SHB 2776, and must include a phase-in schedule for fully funding each of the components of basic education. We recognize that the April 30, 2014 shortens the time for the State’s report, but it is clear that the pace of progress must quicken.
“Tim Eyman’s latest initiative violates Article IX of the Washington State Constitution by eliminating $1 billion a year in funding for education and our other vital public services if the Legislature doesn’t do what Tim wants,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve.
“The Supreme Court was crystal clear in the original McCleary ruling two years ago, and again today: We are not fulfilling our paramount duty of providing every child in Washington with a quality public education. That’s because we are underfunding our schools. Tim Eyman’s I-1325 would make a bad problem much, much worse. It’s coercion: either the Legislature sabotages our cherished tradition of majority rule by voting to adopt a constitutional amendment that gives one third of one house the power to block new revenue, or the sales tax is reduced, wiping out billions every biennium. Either outcome would almost certainly lead to further violations of the state Supreme Court’s order.”
The sales tax and the property tax are the principal sources of revenue for Washington’s K-12 schools. Saying that full funding is needed “now”, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn’s office is proposing legislation that would trigger a one percent increase in the sales tax if the Legislature does not figure out how to comply with the McCleary decision by January 1st, 2018. (Eyman’s initiative, as mentioned, would decrease the sales tax by one percent unless Eyman gets what he wants).
“Tim Eyman and a number of Republican lawmakers would like us all to believe we can fully fund our public schools without reforming our broken, regressive tax system,” said Villeneuve.
“If it were that easy, we would have done it already. Where’s that money going to come from? What services do these guys propose defunding so we can rob Peter to pay Paul? Should we gut foster care? Eliminate state support for the disabled and mentally ill? Set all prisoners free and close the Department of Corrections? Or do Eyman and Republican legislators think we can get the funds by planting money trees?”
“We are not going to solve this problem by having this debate in a fantasy world. Arithmetic matters. The reality is, public services cost money, and it is our collective responsibility as a people to ensure our youth get a good public education. Our highest law requires it. More importantly, it’s at the heart of what we believe as Washingtonians. These are our values. We made a promise to our kids and to ourselves when our forebears ratified our Constitution. Tim Eyman would have us ignore that obligation. His toxic politics and destructive initiatives should be rejected.”