Sorry about the unconstitutional lack of funding for the last several years, kids!
Sorry about the unconstitutional lack of funding for the last several years, kids! ASISEEIT/GETTY IMAGES

Last week the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a law allowing public dollars to fund charter schools through the lottery. This was great news for charter schools, but bad news for our public schools, which are still woefully underfunded.

Summer Stinson, co-founder of Washington's Paramount Duty, a group advocating for the state to pay for education by taxing the rich, said in a statement that she's "disappointed" in the court's ruling. "At a time when districts already face cuts thanks to the legislature’s actions, charter schools put many districts at risk of even worse financial problems." Though lawmakers compromised on a McLeary last year, schools in more urban areas face huge budget shortfalls, special education funding remains obscenely low, and class sizes are still too big.

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With—hopefully-maybe-please—larger Democratic majorities in both chambers next session, there's a chance legislators can actually figure out a way to abide by the state constitution and provide a basic education for our kids through progressive taxation. But they're only going to do that if we get them on the record and then yell and scream ask them nicely to do their jobs and fund the schools. Otherwise, we're going to live in a state full of idiots. And all because a bunch of politicians would rather give away $30 billion in tax cuts to corporations every two years rather than pay for education.

Stinson and Paramount Duty tried to get everyone running for the state legislature on the record about this, but some candidates—including prominent Democrats expected to win their elections—didn't respond to the organization's questionnaire about funding public education, even after a minimum of two inquiries from the group.

After some prodding, many Democrats who were conspicuously absent from Paramount Duty's list of respondents finally told me whether they were prepared to get in there and tax the rich for the kids.

Initially, notable absences from the list included State House leader Frank Chopp, State House candidates Jesse Salomon, Lauren Davis, Mia Su-Ling Gregerson, Eric Pettigrew, Tana Senn, Roger Goodman, Javier Valdez, Cindi Bright, and Amy Walen. Also absent were State Senate candidates Shannon Braddock, Claire Wilson, Pat Sullivan, and Patty Kuderer. The Stranger has endorsed all of these candidate, save Walen and Braddock.

Sarah Butler, a parent of two students in Seattle Public School system in the 43rd Legislative District, says she was particularly "disappointed" in representative Chopp. She sent him an e-mail on September 20 asking if he'd filled out Paramount Duty's questionnaire, but he didn't reply. "I'd really like to know where he stands on the issue [of progressive school funding]," she said. "The funding is still not sustainable, and it's not entirely clear to me where the money is going."

To be fair, candidates get inundated with questionnaires from many noble and ignoble organizations, so it's extremely easy to miss them in inboxes. And, indeed, almost every candidate I asked about this jumped onboard Paramount Duty's general project and defended themselves by saying the survey must have got lost in the wash.

After asking for comment on why he didn't fill out the questionnaire, Rep. Frank Chopp sent in his survey and said via e-mail that he does "support progressive sources of revenue, including a capital gains tax and removing corporate tax breaks to fund education and other important needs," which is responsive to Paramount Duty's core values. We'll see if he allows bills that address the issue to come to the floor.

The spokesperson for Shannon Braddock, who's running for State Senate in the 34th LD, had lots to say for her candidate: "She wants to pass a capital gains tax to fund education and she supports an income tax so we're taxing wealth, and not work. She’s also talked about specific corporate tax breaks she’d like to close in the next year."

Salomon, who's running for State Senate in the 32nd LD, said he thought he filled it out, but then after I told him he had actually sent an e-mail to Paramount Duty declining to fill it out because he was "too busy" door-knocking, he said sorry and repeated that he only "thought" he'd filled it out. IN ANY EVENT, he said he supports Paramount Duty's mission. "I believe that capital gains taxes are more equitable than using property taxes as they go to funding sources for education," he said, "We need to more effectively audit corporate tax loopholes."

A spokesperson for Wilson, who's running for State Senate in the 30th LD, said she didn't fill out the form "due to a communication error," and that she "supports using a capital gains tax and removing corporate tax breaks to fund public schools," which is the right answer!

Lauren Davis, a candidate for the State House in the 32nd LD, filled out the questionnaire and answered all the questions correctly.

Amy Walen, who's hoping to serve as the State Representative the 48th LD? "My support for a capital gains tax and closing corporate tax loopholes is absolutely clear. I do, and have said so early and often." Her opponent, Cindi Bright? Still hasn't gotten back to me.

Mia Su-Ling Gregerson, a State Rep. for Kent, is in for a capital gains tax and a deal to close corporate loopholes to pay for education.

Rep. Pat Sullivan called to say he supports using capital gains tax to pay for education, but he worried lawmakers might be unable to get much money from closing tax loopholes for corporations. Thirty billion sounds like plenty to me! Anyway, he's good now, except for on guns.

Javier Valdez, a state rep for the 46th LD, also agreed to taxing the rich to pay for schools, as did Roger Goodman of the 45th LD.

No dice on Rep. Eric Pettigrew, Rep. Tana Senn, and Sen. Patty Kuderer.

Check out Paramount Duty's full list of respondents here. Below is a list of only the good ones who said they'd institute a capital gains tax and/or close corporate loopholes to pay for education. Please consult the SECB's endorsements for further guidance. If your preferred candidate or representative isn't on the list below, find their contact info on this other list and express your disappointment via e-mail.

1st District

State House Position 1

Derek Stanford (D)

State House Position 2

Shelley Kloba (D)

4th District

State House Position 1

Ted Cummings (D)

State House Position 2

Mary May (D)

6th District

State Senator

Jessa Lewis

State House Position 1

Kay Murano (D)

7th District

State Senator

Karen Hardy (D)

State House Position 1

Randall (Randy) Michaelis (D)

State House Position 2

Mike Bell (D)

8th District

State House Position 1

Shir Regev (D)

State House Position 2

Christopher Tracy (D)

9th District

State House Position 1

Jenn Goulet (D)

State House Position 2

Matthew Sutherland (D)

10th District

State House Position 1

Scott McMullen (D)

11th District

State House Position 1

Zack Hudgins (D)

14th District

State House Position 2

Liz Hallock (D)

16th District

State House Position 1

Everett Maroon (D)

17th District

State House Position 1

Tanisha Harris (D)

18th District

State House Position 1

Chris Thobaben (D)

State House Position 2

Kathy Gillespie (D)

19th District

State House Position 1

Erin Frasier (D)

20th District

State House Position 1

John Thompson (D)

22nd District

State House Position 1

Laurie Dolan (D)

25th District

State House Position 1

Jamie Smith (D)

27th District

State House Position 2

Jake Fey (D)

28th District

State House Position 2

Christine Kilduff (D)

30th District

State Senator

Claire Wilson (D)

State House Position 1

Mike Pellicciotti (D)

State House Position 2

Kristine M. Reeves (D)

31st District

State House Position 1

Victoria Mena (D)

32nd District

State Senator

Maralyn Chase (D)
Jesse Salomon (D)

State House Position 1

Cindy Ryu (D)

State House Position 2

Lauren Davis (D)

33rd District

State Senator

Karen Keiser (D)

State House Position 2

Mia Su-Ling Gregerson

34th District

State Senator

Joe Nguyen (D)
Shannon Braddock (D)

35th District

State Senator

Irene Bowling (D)

State House Position 1

James Thomas (D)

State House Position 2

David Daggett (D)

36th District

State House Position 1

Noel Christina Frame (D)

State House Position 2

Gael Tarleton (D)

37th District

State Senator

Rebecca Saldaña (D)

38th District

State House Position 2

Mike Sells (D)

39th District

State Senator

Claus Joens (D)

State House Position 1

Ivan Lewis (D)

40th District

State House Position 1

Michael Petrish (R)

41st District

State House Position 2

My-Linh Thai (D)

42nd District

State House Position 1

Justin Boneau (D)

State House Position 2

Sharon Shewmake (D)

43rd District

State Senator

Jamie Pedersen (D)

State House Position 1

Nicole Macri (D)

State House Position 2

Frank Chopp (D)

44th District

State House Position 1

John Lovick (D)

State House Position 2

Jared M. Mead (D)

45th District

State Senator

Manka Dhingra (D)

State House Position 1

Roger Goodman (D)

State House Position 2

Larry Springer (D)

46th District

State Senator

David Frockt (D)

State House Position 1

Gerry Pollet (D)

State House Position 2

Javier Valdez (D)

47th District

State Senator

Mona Das (D)

State House Position 1

Debra Entenman (D)

State House Position 2

Pat Sullivan (D)

48th District

State House Position 2

Amy Walen (D)

49th District

State House Position 1

Sharon Wylie (D)