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I’ve seen enough dancing around the real issues of funding education in Washington State by our legislators and it’s time for them to get serious or get another job.
From the Washington Budget Policy Center (who made a great presentation at the Stanford Center last year about funding education in our state hosted by the Seattle PTSA and the League of Women Voters):
The new forecast of Washington state tax collections makes it clear that lawmakers can no longer assume the growing economy will automatically generate the resources needed to fund court-mandated improvements to schools, mental health, and other important priorities for our state.
The Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council’s projection that state tax resources will be more than $500 million lower than previously forecasted over the next four years means policymakers must get serious about generating new revenue to invest in the progress and well-being of our state and its people.
The diminished tax resources ($78.2 million lower for the current 2015-17 budget cycle; $435.6 million lower in the 2017-19 budget cycle) present a significant challenge to House and Senate budget writers. The writers should be cautious about tapping budget reserves to make up for the reduction in revenues. Doing so would only be a temporary fix. And depleting savings now could jeopardize the state’s ability to maintain core public investment in schools, public health, parks, and other vital services that serve us all if the economy were to enter a downturn.
A better approach is to preserve the things we rely on by raising additional resources. The Legislature can do this by ending wasteful tax breaks and enacting the new tax on capital gains as proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee in late 2014. It wouldn’t be right to continue giving tax breaks to large profitable corporations and wealthy investors while cutting back on financial aid, making K-12 class sizes bigger, or eroding the independence of seniors.
Given the forecasted shortfall in resources, these new sources of added revenue are key to ensuring that all Washingtonians have the opportunity to live in healthy, thriving communities.
Now get with it.