Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Washington State PTA joins the ranks of groups opposing Tim Eyman's I-1033

The Washington State Parent Teacher Association gets it. Earlier this month, its board of directors voted unanimously to oppose Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033 which, if passed, would lock our state government into its current thin-as-tissue-paper budget.

The WSPTA is a one hundred year old organization with one purpose: working to improve the lives of children and youth. It has no other agenda or political affiliation. It makes it decisions based on the best interests of Washington’s young people.

In a July 2009 memo from WSPTA Executive Director Bill Williams to the PTA's board, Williams wrote:
I-1033, if adopted, could be problematic for the state as a whole and for K-12 education in particular.
He went on to conclude that the initiative:
...would have significant detrimental impacts on state and local governments, and particularly in the area of education.
Starting in 2010, this infrastructure-destroying initiative would freeze Washington’s general fund budget at its current recession-starved level, with annual adjustments based only on inflation and population growth.

Since Washington’s public schools receive between 76 and 93 percent of their funding from the state general fund, the PTA has understandable concerns about this proposal. Among them is the fact that the economic crisis-based 2009-2011 budget would become the baseline for future state budgets. This budget has already caused school districts to lay off teachers, increase class sizes, put off maintaining their buildings and buying new textbooks and buses,and cancel music and athletic programs.

If I-1033 were to pass, state budgets would only get tighter in the future. This would be a good year.

The WSPTA also objected to the imprecise indexes for measuring inflation and population growth that the initiative requires in order to calculate budget growth, and to the lack of flexibility in resources the state, its counties and cities would have to handle an unforeseen emergency like a major earthquake or swine flu epidemic.

The bottom line is that schools would receive less money, as noted by the state’s Office of Financial Management. If Washington values education and its youth it won’t vote to cripple our schools. The 2009-2010 public school budgets are disasters. Why would we vote to make them permanent?


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