Lies, Distortions, and Fuzzy Facts – the Legislature and the Seattle Times
So today we have an approved state budget, less than 24 hours from a shut-down of the state government. Since this issue has been at the forefront of the news for at least two months, you might imagine such an event would be front page news for the Seattle Times.
Not so. It made it only as far as above the fold in Section B.
What do we find? All comments following should be mentally preceded by “according to the Times” as a precaution, as the Times is not a credible source unless you apply a filter for bias in favor of the wealthy and corporate interests.
“raises pay for teachers.” Here a couple of factoids many people are not aware of, or choose to ignore. Unlike most Boeing workers and many others, teachers do not receive a “holiday bonus” or a bonus at any other time of the year. Unlike many employees and all Social Security recipients, teachers do not receive a cost of living adjustment. This one surprised even our financial planner, who had assumed such a thing in his computer projections for our future. When I corrected him he was shocked.
The legislature was supposed to provide a COL adjustment under an initiative passed several years ago, but dealt with this initiative in the same fashion they often do with initiatives for teacher issues they find uncomfortable. They have ignored it,
“It’s a great budget,” according to Republican Senator Andy Hill. Of course it is, if your goal is to create public education for the poor slobs who cannot afford to put their children in expensive private schools, as Senator Hill has.
The budget does not reduce class sizes in grades 4-12, as required by yet another initiative passed by the public. This is another initiative the legislature chooses to ignore. According to Frank Ordway of the League of Education Voters, the legislature is expected to “suspend” the initiative, How can that be legal?
And the raises? 3% over the next two years. That would be 1.5% a year, plus an additional 1.8% that will expire in 2017! The spokesperson for WEA referred to people who are describing this as not a raise, but a tip. When was the last time you gave your waiter a 1.5% tip? Or, at most, a 3.3% tip?
It remains to be seen if the State Supreme Court will decide if this farce complies with the constitutional mandate that the legislature fully fund basic education. Nobody with a tenuous grasp of the law and language can possibly do so, and then what?
Either they will tell the legislature what to do and put them all in jail until they comply with the law, or come up with a definition of “fully fund” that will turn your head inside out.
Keep in mind that all of this has been done by people elected by their constituents. Thus the race to the bottom for education funding in this state (Slogan: “We’re almost there!”) continues.
Some day we will have legislators who understand the need for full funding of education, and that definition can easily be based on what other states are doing. Washington now ranks perilously close to 50th in some statistical categories for funding, which is appalling given that most of our major industries rely on a highly educated work force.
It would be nice to have a real newspaper too,
Copyright 2015 David Preston