It's time for our weekly rundown of Likes & Dislikes.
No special guest this Friday, it's just us.
1. We DON'T LIKE that the Seattle Times has latched on to the GOP's "Reform before Revenue" talking point in its legislative endorsements this year, particularly when it comes to education (see here, for example.)
The legislature's failure to meet the McCleary K-12 funding mandate, which has drawn a contempt-of-court threat from the Washington State Supreme Court, comes precisely because the Republican reform mantra was used to reject an education funding package, one that closed corporate tax loopholes.
A little ed reform history lesson for the Times editorial board: State house Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina), an education reform champion who ushered through 2009's landmark education reform legislation, over the consternation of the teachers' union, that the McCleary decision now cites as the blueprint for funding, is the main proponent of immediate funding. As the Democratic house appropriations chair, Hunter—along with ed reformer and house finance chair Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-36, Queen Anne—wrote the funding plan that the GOP "reformers" rejected.
A little history lesson for the Times editorial board.
To the chagrin of many Democrats (and the teachers' union), PubliCola is big on ed reform as well, and we too were bemused at the Democrats (and Republicans) for failing get behind Republican state Sen. Steve Litzow's (R-41, Mercer Island) important teacher evaluation bill last year to help Washington state meet federal guidelines instead of squandering $38 million.
But it's the spurious "Reform before Revenue" soundbite that's actually doing the most harm to reform because, as the Court has said three times now, it's being used to prevent reform from happening.
2. We LIKE Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien's amendment to the transit-only (also Like) Seattle-only (mixed feelings) Metro bus funding measure that council sent to voters yesterday.
O'Brien's proposal, which passed unanimously, does a couple of excellent things. First, it puts up to $2 million annually from the sales tax/vehicle license fee fund toward improving bus service access for low-income people by (and thinking holistically here) looping social service facilities, like neighborhood service centers, into the low-income bus fare program. And second, O'Brien's amendment sets up a process with King County to review if Seattle can use some of the funds to bring the low-income fare below the current $1.50 that King County put into effect despite the countywide vote against bus funding in general.
3. We LIKE that Ben Noble, the former city council central staff director (the council's research brain trust) who now heads Mayor Ed Murray's budget shop, is stealing his former council colleagues: his latest get is central staffer John McCoy.
And finally ...
Republican State Sen. Andy Hill's stunning voters' guide statement
5. We DON'T UNDERSTAND what Republican state Sen. Andy Hill (R-45, Kirkland), the senate budget chair, is talking about in his stunning voters' guide statement where he claims he "closed unfair [tax] loopholes."
Yes, in 2012, after the house GOP and GOP-gubernatorial candidate finally seconded a longstanding Democratic proposal to close the big bank loophole, the senate, after scoffing, relented.
But since Hill has taken over as senate budget chair (in 2013), he has been the lead opponent of repeated Democratic proposals to close tax loopholes.
In fact, Hill's budget not only protected all of the 650 tax loopholes on the books, but it created and/or extended 18 loopholes.
Which was keeping with his Republican philosophy: Incoming budget chair Hill trashed Gov. Jay Inslee's 2013-15 budget proposal to close loopholes at the start of the 2013 budgeting biennium.
From a public radio report:
Inslee says he will continue to push for the elimination of what he calls “unproductive tax loopholes.”
Senate budget chair Andy Hill, a Republican, called tax increases the “easy” solution. Instead he’s banking on future revenues from other sources.