NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Tim Eyman pal Michael Baumgartner prefiles amendment to repeal “paramount duty” language in Washington State Constitution

In a fair­ly bla­tant attempt to get some atten­tion for him­self and steer pub­lic dis­course away from ful­ly fund­ing our pub­lic schools, extrem­ist right wing Sen­a­tor Michael Baum­gart­ner of Spokane has pre­filed a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment that would repeal the mem­o­rable open­ing words of Arti­cle IX of the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion (“It is the para­mount duty of the state to make ample pro­vi­sion for the edu­ca­tion of all chil­dren resid­ing with­in its bor­ders, with­out dis­tinc­tion or pref­er­ence on account of race, col­or, caste, or sex.”).

Baum­gart­ner, who is one of Tim Eyman’s go-to guys in the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate’s Repub­li­can cau­cus, appears to be bor­row­ing a page from Eyman’s play­book by delib­er­ate­ly intro­duc­ing an amend­ment he knows is non­vi­able but which he expects will rile up pro­gres­sives and gen­er­ate press cov­er­age for himself.

Baum­gart­ner is ful­ly aware his pro­pos­al has zero chance of pass­ing either the Sen­ate or the House. Con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments require a two-thirds vote of each house to pass, mean­ing any suc­cess­ful amend­ment has to have bipar­ti­san support.

It’s doubt­ful Baum­gart­ner would be able to even get most of his Repub­li­can col­leagues to back this trav­es­ty of an amend­ment. There’s unlike­ly to be much of an appetite in the cau­cus for this, even though many oth­er Sen­ate Repub­li­cans are just as extreme as Baum­gart­ner is (ahem, Doug Ericksen).

But he’s prob­a­bly at least hop­ing to secure a com­mit­tee hear­ing on this res­o­lu­tion of his. And he should­n’t get one. The Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate has very impor­tant busi­ness to attend to this upcom­ing ses­sion, most notably com­ply­ing with this very part of the Con­sti­tu­tion Baum­gart­ner wants to repeal.

No one’s time should be wast­ed debat­ing this ridicu­lous amend­ment, which is a full-fledged assault on the val­ues that Wash­ing­ton State was found­ed on.

Most of the men who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the writ­ing of Wash­ing­ton’s Con­sti­tu­tion were Repub­li­cans. Pro­gres­sive Repub­li­cans. Were any of them around today, I imag­ine they’d be pret­ty dis­gust­ed to see an elect­ed mem­ber of their par­ty try­ing to wipe away per­haps the finest words they left behind for future generations.

Arti­cle IX, con­cern­ing edu­ca­tion, dates back to state­hood, as does its pre­am­ble. Only an extrem­ist would seek to sab­o­tage Arti­cle IX by repeal­ing its pre­am­ble and insert­ing lan­guage explic­it­ly allow­ing pub­lic dol­lars to go to pri­vate­ly-run schools — which is what Baum­gart­ner’s amend­ment does.

Shame on Michael Baum­gart­ner for propos­ing this non­sense, and shame on any of his Repub­li­can col­leagues who dare give it any atten­tion whatsoever.

This upcom­ing ses­sion needs to be all about increas­ing state rev­enue so that our kids and teach­ers get the resources they need. NPI’s research shows an over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans believe our schools are under­fund­ed and sup­port reforms like a cap­i­tal gains tax to address that fund­ing cri­sis.

That’s what the Leg­is­la­ture needs to be talk­ing about — not this silliness.

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One Comment

  1. No kid­ding, Sherlock.

    # by Gretchen Sand :: December 6th, 2016 at 2:42 PM
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