NO on I‑2109 launches new website, calls on Washingtonians to defend education funding this fall

The coali­tion work­ing to defend the Edu­ca­tion Lega­cy Trust today held a series of four events around the state to pro­mote its new web­site and urge Wash­ing­to­ni­ans to come togeth­er this autumn in oppo­si­tion to Ini­tia­tive 2109, Bri­an Hey­wood and Jim Wal­sh’s incred­i­bly destruc­tive scheme to repeal the state’s cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy.

In Spokane, Yaki­ma, Van­cou­ver, and Burien, ear­ly learn­ing and pub­lic edu­ca­tion advo­cates were joined by elect­ed offi­cials and child­care providers to speak to the grave dam­age I‑2109 would inflict on essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices if it were enacted.

“Ini­tia­tive 2109 will take away bil­lions of dol­lars in child­care fund­ing. The fam­i­lies who enroll their chil­dren in our cen­ter rely on state fund­ing. If Ini­tia­tive 2109 pass­es, as many as half of the fam­i­lies we work with may no longer be able to afford child­care,” said Diana Llanes, the own­er and oper­a­tor of Once Upon a Time Bilin­gual Child­care Cen­ter in Burien. 

Once Upon a Time host­ed the Burien launch event, which I attend­ed along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from many oth­er media orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing KUOW, KOMO, and KIRO.

Watch­ing kids play in the cen­ter’s play­ground after the speak­ing pro­gram was an excel­lent reminder of what’s at stake this autumn. These lit­tle ones are our future! 

Chil­dren play­ing with their care providers at Once Upon A Time Day­care in Burien, Wash­ing­ton (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Only the rich­est Wash­ing­to­ni­ans pay our state’s cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy, which has helped make our upside down tax code more equi­table, and the fund­ing is ben­e­fit­ing fam­i­lies all across Wash­ing­ton. The tax, which was enact­ed in 2021 and has already sur­vived a well-fund­ed legal chal­lenge, is levied only on large fortunes. 

All real estate is exempt, along with retire­ment accounts and pro­ceeds from sales of farm­land and tim­ber­lands. Even though most Wash­ing­to­ni­ans don’t pay it, the tax still rais­es hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars a year for education. 

Nohe­mi Bautista, who owns CasaLu­na Day­care Cen­ter in Yaki­ma, agrees with Llanes that pas­sage of I‑2109 would be a huge blow to fam­i­lies with young children. 

“Ini­tia­tive 2109 would cut bil­lions of dol­lars in child­care assis­tance. Every one of the par­ents whose kids I look after and edu­cate relies on this assis­tance. These par­ents are health­care work­ers, farm­work­ers, and ware­house work­ers. They do jobs that are essen­tial for our com­mu­ni­ty to thrive. If Ini­tia­tive 2109 pass­es, these par­ents may not be unable to afford child­care and not be able to do these crit­i­cal jobs. Kids will miss oppor­tu­ni­ties, par­ents will lose income, and our com­mu­ni­ty will suf­fer,” said Bautista. 

Par­ents are wor­ried, too. 

“The father of my old­est two chil­dren died in August of 2021 due to com­pli­ca­tions relat­ed to COVID-19. In order for me to be able to work, my chil­dren need child­care. For many Wash­ing­ton fam­i­lies, qual­i­ty child­care feels like a lux­u­ry they can­not afford. This isn’t just a bur­den on par­ents, it hin­ders our state’s poten­tial. By mak­ing child­care more afford­able, we empow­er par­ents to join the work­force, boost­ing our econ­o­my,” not­ed Aman­da Ham­mond, a Save The Chil­dren Action Net­work par­ent from Vancouver.

Diana Llanes (left) owns Once Upon A Time Day­care in Burien, and says that pas­sage of Bri­an Hey­wood and Jim Wal­sh’s Ini­tia­tive 2109 would have a direct, imme­di­ate, neg­a­tive impact on the fam­i­lies she serves (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“Two of my chil­dren attend­ed preschool through the Ear­ly Child­hood Edu­ca­tion and Assis­tance Pro­gram. Not only did ECEAP help get my kids ready for kinder­garten, it cre­at­ed a com­mu­ni­ty for our fam­i­ly. Ini­tia­tive 2109 threat­ens to take away bil­lions of dol­lars in fund­ing for ear­ly learn­ing pro­grams that the Fair Start for Kids Act pro­vides,” echoed Daree Blake, a Mom­sRis­ing & Save the Chil­dren Action Net­work par­ent from Spokane.

For almost ten years, NPI’s research has con­sis­tent­ly found that a robust major­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sup­port tax­ing wealth to fund edu­ca­tion. Vot­ers sup­port our cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy and would like to see the state go even fur­ther by levy­ing a wealth tax, which the Leg­is­la­ture has yet to do. 

Right wing Repub­li­cans are very upset that Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors have tak­en steps to require the wealthy to invest more appro­pri­ate sums in Wash­ing­ton’s future. This is their third attempt to turn back the clock. They first tried to get the cap­i­tal gains tax thrown out in court, as men­tioned, but their law­suit failed. While the law­suit was ongo­ing, a group of Repub­li­can oper­a­tives tried to drum up inter­est in forc­ing statewide vote on over­turn­ing the tax but had to nix their cam­paign after donors lost interest. 

Then, last year, top Repub­li­can Par­ty donor Bri­an Hey­wood decid­ed to self-fund a repeal effort as part of a larg­er slate of ini­tia­tives intend­ed to undo laws passed by the Leg­is­la­ture in the last few years, includ­ing the Cli­mate Com­mit­ment Act and WA Cares. 

Hey­wood’s mil­lions enabled I‑2109 to qual­i­fy as an ini­tia­tive to the 2024 Leg­is­la­ture in Jan­u­ary. Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors declined to adopt I‑2109 and instead referred it to the Novem­ber bal­lot. It’s now the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the NO on I‑2109 cam­paign to make the case for the mea­sure’s rejec­tion to the peo­ple of Washington.

NPI is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the cam­paign and the larg­er coali­tion work­ing for vic­to­ry over all of Hey­wood and Wal­sh’s mea­sures, which is known as Defend Washington.

The coali­tion’s polling has found I‑2109 and its sib­lings to be in a very weak posi­tion out of the gate, which is encour­ag­ing. How­ev­er, we can’t sit on our lau­rels and hope for a good out­come. The key to beat­ing bad bal­lot mea­sures is to build active, inclu­sive, high­ly vis­i­ble NO cam­paigns that bring peo­ple togeth­er and tell the sto­ry of the harm that would be inflict­ed by the mea­sure’s pas­sage. That’s what NO on I‑2109 is doing. 

Con­nect­ing the dots between rev­enue and ser­vices is impor­tant: vot­ers need to know, and want to know, what the tax dol­lars they’re being asked to repeal are pay­ing for. 

The NO on 2109 cam­paign made sure that its May 23rd events would have extreme­ly com­pelling visu­als, giv­ing cam­era crews plen­ty to work with for their sto­ries about the launch (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

We suc­ceed­ed spec­tac­u­lar­ly today in telling the sto­ries of the fam­i­lies and the child­care providers who will be hurt if I‑2109 pass­es. We’re off to a good start in our quest to build the most effec­tive cam­paign pos­si­ble against Bri­an Hey­wood’s self-serv­ing effort to give him­self and oth­er rich peo­ple a tax cut at the expense of Wash­ing­ton’s youth. 

Andrew Villeneuve

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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