NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Washington’s Senate Republicans pass bill transferring education funding to highways

Prov­ing once again that their Fund edu­ca­tion first rhetoric is noth­ing but a false front, Repub­li­cans today pushed a bill through the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate that trans­fers sales tax rev­enue col­lect­ed on trans­porta­tion projects out of the state’s gen­er­al fund and into its high­way fund. Since the gen­er­al fund prin­ci­pal­ly pays for our schools and uni­ver­si­ties, the bill would effec­tive­ly take mon­ey away from edu­ca­tion and put it towards lay­ing asphalt instead.

The final vote on SSB 5990 was twen­ty-six to twen­ty-three, with all Repub­li­cans vot­ing aye and all Democ­rats vot­ing nay. The bill now heads to the House, where it will hope­ful­ly receive the full and com­plete bur­ial that it deserves.

The roll call was as fol­lows:

Vot­ing Yea: Sen­a­tors Angel, Bai­ley, Baum­gart­ner, Beck­er, Ben­ton, Braun, Brown, Dammeier, Dansel, Erick­sen, Fain, Hewitt, Hill, Hon­ey­ford, King, Lit­zow, Milos­cia, O’Ban, Pad­den, Par­lette, Pear­son, Rivers, Roach, Schoesler, Shel­don, War­nick

Vot­ing Nay: Sen­a­tors Bil­lig, Chase, Cleve­land, Con­way, Darneille, Fras­er, Frockt, Habib, Har­grove, Hasegawa, Hat­field, Hobbs, Jaya­pal, Keis­er, Kohl-Welles, Liias, McAu­li­ffe, McCoy, Mul­let, Nel­son, Ped­er­sen, Ranker, Rolfes

Pri­or to the vote on final pas­sage, Sen­ate Democ­rats tried to get the bill amend­ed to pro­hib­it it from tak­ing effect until after the McCleary case has been ful­ly resolved.

The Sen­ate Repub­li­cans vot­ed the amend­ment down, draw­ing a point­ed rejoin­der from Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Prami­la Jaya­pal of Seat­tle.

“How can the Repub­li­can major­i­ty claim edu­ca­tion fund­ing is their top pri­or­i­ty, and yet blow a bil­lion dol­lar hole in already lim­it­ed resources?” said Jaya­pal, who offered the amend­ment with fel­low Demo­c­rat Rose­mary McAu­li­ffe. “This is bad for our kids, bad for our infra­struc­ture, and it is sim­ply irre­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ing.”

“Leg­is­la­tors on both sides of the aisle came into this ses­sion in agree­ment that our top pri­or­i­ty must be meet­ing our moral and con­sti­tu­tion­al oblig­a­tion to our kids while also ensur­ing that we main­tain the oth­er essen­tial ser­vices that the state pro­vides, from fund­ing high­er edu­ca­tion to safe­ty net ser­vices,” Jaya­pal added.

“With­out any agree­ment on where the dol­lars will come from to fund the needs we cur­rent­ly know we have, this bill gives us an even more giant prob­lem to solve. The readi­ness to for­go such a rea­son­able com­pro­mise on some­thing that would ensure that we fund both edu­ca­tion and trans­porta­tion makes me ques­tion how will­ing the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans will be to come up with bal­anced solu­tions on edu­ca­tion fund­ing and the state bud­get in the weeks to come.”

Today’s action by Sen­ate Repub­li­cans reminds us of a speech that Pat­ty Mur­ray used to give, back when she was run­ning for reelec­tion to her third term in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate. Denounc­ing the actions of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion and the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Con­gress, she’d declare: They’ve got the wrong pri­or­i­ties!

Eleven years lat­er, not much has changed. When Repub­li­cans hold pow­er, they either gov­ern irre­spon­si­bly, or not at all. Our coun­try and state suf­fer as a result.

The Wash­ing­ton Supreme Court has already held the Leg­is­la­ture in con­tempt of court for fail­ing to com­ply with its orders to ful­ly fund our pub­lic schools. Sen­ate Repub­li­cans have now thumbed their noses at that order by inde­fen­si­bly vot­ing to take mon­ey away from our schools and ear­mark it for new pave­ment. Because, as far as they’re con­cerned, noth­ing is too good for our cars. Nev­er mind our kids.

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2 Comments

  1. In para­graph two don’t you mean all Democ­rats vot­ing nay?

    # by Matt Loschen :: February 28th, 2015 at 10:25 AM
    • Yes. Fixed.

      # by Andrew :: March 2nd, 2015 at 3:47 PM