1. The state house appropriations committee was briefed on two headline issues yesterday afternoon facing the state legislature in the upcoming legislative session: A) The McCleary decision mandating that the state fully fund K-12 education; the state is about $5 billion short right now and the Court is holding the state in contempt. And B) I-1351, the measure voters passed earlier this month to lower class sizes, which will add an estimated $4 billion to the K-12 tab.
Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-32, Seattle) asked staff if 1351—which tweaks the definition of basic education by lowering class sizes—was now included in the Court's order by default.
"Good question!" appropriations committee staffer Kristen Fraser said. "The initiative declares that the changes [lowering class size] are within the program of basic education [and] that it makes the changes directly to the funding formula in the basic education act.
"Ordinarily that means because the legislature has declared the basic education act to be the state's Article Nine responsibility [the state constitution's 'paramount duty' to fund basic education] that means like Article Nine duties it's the state's job to fund it as a priority over other programs."
"We could maybe find the kind of research that might indicate that that's not a necessary change in order to meet ample provision of basic education."—state Rep. Larry Springer
Rep. Larry Springer (D-45, Kirkland) followed up by using that logic to float the idea of getting out of 1351's specific mandate.
If 1351 was "by implication" subject to McCleary, he said, "it would also then follow that the legislature could be in a position to make an instructional policy decision with regard to the efficacy of say [grades] nine to 12 going from 28 to 25 [students]. We could maybe find the kind of research that might indicate that that's not a necessary change in order to meet ample provision of basic education."
Fraser told him the legislature could "document the educational reason" for the court why they'd chosen an "equally valuable program" but there were "uncertainties about how the court would prioritize 2261 [the basic education law] over 1351 in the course of its judicial supervision."
Speaking of not meeting the $9 billion funding order. Appropriations committee ranking minority member Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-15, Granger) asked staff a bombshell:
"If for whatever reason on the 105th day of session, we do not agree on a budget, we don't pass a budget, what are the potential implications with regard to our active relationship with the court?"
Fraser said that the state would have to file a brief with the court explaining why they didn't comply with the order to come up with an implementation plan.
2. We can't wait for Friday LIKES & DISLIKES to note that socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant got arrested for disorderly conduct (blocking International Blvd. in SeaTac) yesterday afternoon outside Alaska Airlines corporate headquarters while protesting the company's challenge to $15 minimum wage at Sea-Tac.
Background: In 2013, city of SeaTac voters passed a $15 minimum wage law. In December 2013, King County Superior Court cancelled the raise for about 4,700 workers at Sea-Tac airport because, the court said, a city ordinance couldn't dictate policy at the Port of Seattle, a separate political entity. In July 2014, the Port voted to raise wages to $11.22 by 2015 and to $13 by 2017. Last week, however, Alaska Airlines joined an industry lawsuit against the raises saying they ignored the bargaining table process.
Labor-backed activist group Working Washington, which helped organize the original $15 campaign in SeaTac in 2013, led a protest of about 100 Sea-Tac workers and protesters yesterday afternoon across the street from Alaska Airlines headquarters on International Blvd.
Sawant was arrested during the rush-hour protest along with a Sea-Tac worker a former Sea-Tac worker and Rev. John Helmiere of Valley and Mountain Church in Southeast Seattle after the four of them failed to follow a police order to stay on the sidewalk.
Sawant, who told the Seattle Times before the arrest that it was her "obligation as a public servant" to engage in civil disobedience to "show leadership" issued the following statement after being released from jail in Des Moines later in the evening: “It was the courageous struggle of workers that won 15 in SeaTac and Seattle, and that same commitment shown here today will help ensure that Alaska Airlines’ attempts at massive wage theft will be defeated."