Isn't it Weird That...
Some weird things we noticed about K-12 funding, mayoral funding, and Michael Baumgartner.
Here's Josh's story on yesterday's recommendations to the legislature from the Joint Task Force for Education Funding, but ...
1. Isn't it weird that ... the funding proposal that would bring in the most money, the levy swap, is apparently off the table in Olympia? (Gov. Jay Inslee is against it and speaker of the house Frank Chopp (D-43) doesn't like it either, because Seattle-area property owners would end up subsidizing schools elsewhere in the state.)
The swap, which would replace property taxes approved at the local level with more stable and reliable state property taxes, would bring in between $1.7 to $2.6 billion per biennium, according to the task force. The state faces an estimated $1.4 billion education funding gap over the next biennium, on top of a $1 billion general fund shortfall.
The McCleary decision called the reliance on local levies a flagrant abdication of the state's responsibility to fund basic education. Check it out: The state currently spends about $14 billion per biennium on K-12 education, while local districts (280 out of 295 districts have local levies) add about $3.8 billion per biennium to make up for the inadequate state funding.
The court wrote:
We rejected special excess levies as “dependable and regular” not only because they are subject to the whim of the electorate, but also because they are too variable insofar as levies depend on the assessed valuation of taxable real property at the local level. This latter justification implicates both the equity and the adequacy of the K-12 funding system. Districts with high property values are able to raise more levy dollars than districts with low property values, thus affecting the equity of a statewide system. (…) In short, the State’s reliance on local dollars to support the basic education program fails to provide the “ample” funding article IX, section 1 requires. ... To fill this gap in funding, local districts have been forced to turn increasingly to excess levies, placing them on the same unstable financial foundation.
The court's penchant for more equitable tax policy means richer districts would see a tax increase. Everyone would pay a $1.17 per $1,000 assessed value, but thanks to the way progressive taxation works—Seattle, for example, would pay an additional $200 million, but would keep only about $60 million. Meanwhile, 53 percent of districts across the state would see their taxes go down.
Yeah, that's unfair. But all the Seattle liberals who are demanding that the state opt for new revenue, instead of cuts, to address the McCleary decision and the budget shortfall, should know that those taxes would hit Seattle harder than other places as well.
Given that nearly 60 percent of all individual high-income earners in the state live in King County, it follows that something like a capital gains tax, estimated to bring in about $1.4 billion per biennium, would also hit Seattle disproportionately.
2. Isn't it weird that ... Despite having approximately zero percent name recognition in Seattle, bowtie-wearing mayoral candidate Charlie Staadecker came in second in January's mayoral fundraising scrum, and is poised, his campaign told PubliCola, to top a total of $100,000 raised this month?
With a total of $22,538 raised in January, Staadecker came in second only to city council member Tim Burgess, who brought in $31,575. (State Sen. Ed Murray is barred from raising funds for his mayoral bid while the legislature is in session.)
"If running for office was like writing a term paper, Kate Martin would already be mayor."
3. Isn't it weird that ... Long-shot mayoral candidate Kate Martin, a Greenwood neighborhood activist who has only raised a handful of contributions (about $140 as of the end of December, the last time she filed a campaign-finance report with the city), has chosen as her slogan, "Kate Makes Cents"?
(Martin, to be fair, is a very well-informed candidate; according to one person who attended a candidate breakfast held by the City Neighborhood Council this weekend, "If running for office was like writing a term paper, Kate Martin would already be mayor.")
4. And in national news, isn't it weird that ... state Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-6, Spokane) didn't get elected to the U.S. Senate and yet President Obama is bringing the troops home from "Senator Maria Cantwell's war" in Afghanistan?