Longtime state Rep. Frank Chopp is skating through his primary against self-proclaimed socialist Jess Spear (a protégé of Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant). As of today, Chopp has received over 80% of the vote, effectively leaving Spear—and socialists’ dream of taking over Seattle—in the dust.
Of course, Chopp’s victory is not too great of an achievement. Spear isn’t exactly a model leader, or a model citizen, only last week she was arrested and “booked into King County jail on a charge of second-degree criminal trespassing.” Adding to his easy victory, Chopp—the king of special interests—won the full backing of labor. As SHIFT reported, that reality did not sit too well with the Spear campaign. Her campaign accused the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) of “criminally supporting” Chopp.
Nevertheless, facing a socialist opponent does appear to have rattled Chopp. The House Speaker (who often runs unopposed) actively campaigned during the primary—Chopp’s yard signs and mail-pieces bombarded the 43rd LD. He told the Seattle PI, “I actually worked hard…”
As a part of his hard work, Chopp countered attacks made by Spear through every means necessary—even blatantly lying. Take, for example, education. The subject proved a central point of attack for Spear. On his campaign website, Chopp lists higher education tuition freezes as a primary objective of his political career. On his latest mailer, Chopp claims that he is “working hard to carry out a progressive agenda… by dedicating a new revenue source for higher education to freeze tuition, increase student financial aid, and make key investments in colleges and universities.” In other words, Chopp—completely disregarding reality—is taking credit for, among other higher education achievements produced by Senate Republicans, tuition freezes.
Let’s take a look at reality.
For the past 13 years, Chopp has presided over a Democrat majority as the Speaker of the House. Under his leadership, students pursuing a higher education have faced an exponential growth in tuition rates—budget after budget has leeched off students in order to pay for Democrats’ special interest agenda. Chopp’s tenure as House Speaker has resulted in “deliberate state policies to cut college funding and hike tuition.” During the past eight years, under Democrat leadership, tuition at the University of Washington rose 134% and tuition at Washington State University increased—with 24% inflation over the same period. A recent study revealed that Washington State is the second highest in the nation for college tuition costs, with public universities also increasing tuition at the second highest rate in the nation over the past few years.
As for funding, higher education funding has declined since the 2007-09 operating budget. As can be seen in the graph below, all other funding (including Human Services) has fared significantly better under the Democrat controlled budgets—except, of course, K-12 education which Democrats never funded to the degree necessary.
As if plain numbers were not enough, Chopp’s claims are made all the more ridiculous by the fact that, during the 2014 legislative cycle, House Democrats actually attempted to stand in the way of continuing tuition freezes finally implemented when the Senate came under the control of the Majority Coalition Caucus. It is thanks to leaders like Senate budget writer Sen. Andy Hill (R-45th) that, for the first time in 30 years, our current state budget prioritizes education. And, that renewed prioritization includes a significant increase in state funding for higher education and tuition freezes.
The truth is clear, the facts speak for themselves. It’s time for Frank Chopp—among other elected Democrats—to come clean and account for the condition of education funding in our state… but, of course, he won’t.