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.