Guest Editorial: Help Us on School Funding, Supreme Court. You're Our Only Hope.


I appreciate this guest editorial, but the Stranger really ought to step up on the news side and have someone get deep expertise in education funding. It's a big fucking deal.
The Democratic governor and the Democratic House and the (marginally) Republican Senate — all representing the Washingtonians who elected them — agree that this bill fully funds public K-12 education for our children. The authors of this article, as well as the special-interest groups they cite and represent, are far less credible arbiters of what is best for Washingtonians.
This article sloppily defines the meaning of the word “deficit”. In budgeting and real life, a deficit is “how much money this will cost us minus how much money we have.” In this article, a deficit is code of “how much money we THOUGHT we’d get minus how much money we’re actually getting.” When they say Seattle and Tacoma and others are facing deficits, they aren’t actually saying Seattle and Tacoma won’t have enough — just that Seattle and Tacoma will get less.

The state’s plan reallocates wealth from wealthy school districts to less-wealthy school districts. Don’t let them tell you it’s not progressive.
@2 false.
@3 false.
Let me tell you what *is* progressive: This plan resulted in the largest property tax increase in the history of our state. The vast majority of Washington’s real-estate value is held by corporations and the wealthy. Many programs and exemptions exist to reduce the tax burden on low-income and elderly property owners.

But no: The authors suggest that the Supreme Court reassert its constitutional authority because the property taxes funding this plan are still not sufficiently progressive, suggesting instead that higher capital gains taxes or business taxes are required. The Supreme Court of Washington State simply has no constitutional authority to dictate the minimum permissible tax rates on specific income sources.

This article is an extended, unworkable whine.
@4 false @5 false

Yay, this is fun!
Note that the constitution says "ample" funding. The definition of ample is quite literally "more than enough." And since the courts (and common sense) made clear that the current amount of funding districts get isn't enough, anything less than what districts currently receive is therefore unconstitutional and does not meet McCleary.

What happened this year is legislators were convinced by groups like the Washington Roundtable (big business lobbying group) to not raise taxes on the rich or on big companies, and to instead move money around in hopes the courts would be satisfied. But there is no credible way anyone can argue our schools are fully or amply funded right now. Until legislators see that full and ample funding as a higher priority than keeping taxes low on rich people, nothing will change.
I'm as pissed off as the next guy that property taxes are going to be raised on Seattle & the money is all leaving the area. But how on earth is a property tax "regressive?" People with more valuable assets (property) pay more. That seems thoroughly progressive to me.
In what universe can 2 of the largest school districts in the state end up with less money, and have the legislature claim this amply funds education?

Back to court we go.
@9 Perhaps you are just trolling, but here is an explanation.

Progressive doesn't just mean rich people pay more in absolute dollars, that happens even under regressive tax systems for a simple reason: rich people have more money. They buy more stuff, own more expensive things, etc.

What makes a tax system more progressive is if someone pays a higher percentage of their wealth in taxes as they get increasingly wealthier. The reasoning for that kind of system is plain, it takes a certain amount of money to live a decent life, after that you are just using it for luxuries. If we want to ensure more people can afford a decent life, it makes sense to go after money that would be used for luxuries rather than that which would be used for rent/medication/food.

A uniform property tax rate is typically regressive. A 10 times richer person, doesn't buy a 10 times more expensive home. A simple way to see this. Bill Gates is worth 89 billion, but his home costs "only" 63 million. How many people are worth 100 times the value of their home? The end result... a person making 10 times more money pays a lower percentage of their income in taxes than I do.
Remember the School districts alliance for adequate funding of special education in 2010? Not a lot of help from the courts on that one.

Is funding of special ed. or ESL a state or local responsibility? That's the gaping hole in the new budget. They don't fund this on the state level, they won't let it be funded on the local level. That is just accounting stupidity, on the part of the legislature.