Education is the state’s paramount duty and deserves the same urgent attention the Legislature is giving transportation.
Today, the Senate Republicans announced their latest proposal for a new transportation revenue package, which includes a proposal to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from the general fund at the expense of public education and our students.
The Supreme Court has ordered the Legislature to amply fund K-12 education by 2018. Reducing revenue available for education is a step backwards and sets a terrible precedent.
Educators across the state understand the need for a transportation system that meets the needs of its citizens and allows our state to be competitive in the global marketplace. But, funding transportation should never be at the cost of meeting our paramount duty – the education of our students. Washington students have a constitutional right to a well-funded education system and the opportunity to succeed. Our students deserve it – and this is our ultimate key to Washington’s economic success and quality of life.
Transportation has a constitutionally protected funding source in the gas tax. Diverting sales taxes or moving other revenue from the state general fund is an unnecessary and short-term gimmick that is unsustainable unless offset with other tax increases or the elimination of tax loopholes. The Legislature already is drastically underfunding education, and the Supreme Court has directed the Legislature to submit a plan by April 30th that will outline how it will amply fund K-12 education by 2018. Reducing revenue available for education is a step backwards.
Many argue that a special session for Boeing was important and necessary. Many also argue that a transportation package is important and necessary. We believe that our paramount duty – the education of our students – is most important. The Supreme Court expects the Legislature to show a similar sense of urgency for the funding of our schools. In the latest response to the Legislature, the Supreme Court wrote “The need for immediate action could not be more apparent.” The WEA supports transportation improvement – but not at the expense of public education or our students.
Tell Senate Republicans to put the brakes on this idea.