State Senator Christine Rolfes—again—showcased the stunning hypocrisy of Democrats on education in a weekend op-ed for the Seattle Times. Rolfes (staff) writes,
“Common to every community, from Seattle to Selah, is frustration and anger from parents and taxpayers who feel like the state isn’t taking its paramount duty seriously, and that their children miss out as a result. As a legislator and parent of two children attending public school, I share that frustration.”
So, what is Rolfes’ solution for the “frustration” she and parents feel? What is her “solution” after 30 years of her party’s (Democrat) control of state budgets that have resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that the legislature is violating the state constitution by not putting our public schools first?
Higher taxes—mixed with a false attack against Republicans, of course. Rolfes,
“After months of work, senators from both parties agree that a minimum $3.5 billion is needed to update our antiquated education-funding structure. There isn’t consensus, however, regarding the source of new revenue (italics ours). And there are some Republican leaders who deny that this fundamental education crisis exists, even though the state Supreme Court is penalizing the Legislature $100,000 a day for failing to come up with long-term funding solutions.”
As Shift will continue to point out, even if the mainstream media will not, it is Democrats who have underfunded public education and higher education spending for a generation. They have controlled at least one house of the Legislature in 28 of the last 30 years – and had complete control of the Legislature in 14 of those 30 years. A Democrat governor has signed every state budget since 1985. Under these heavily Democrat-controlled budgets, the ratio of new education versus non-education spending was 1:2.
In other words, the Democrats’ priority was two dollars for bigger general government for every new dollar of education funding from 1985 to 2013.
When Republicans finally had the opportunity to take the lead in writing the state Senate budget, they managed to breath new life into our state’s spending prioritizes. In 2013, the Majority Caucus Coalition re-prioritized spending and added nearly $1 billion more in new money for K-12 schools (and froze college tuition) for the first time in 30 years.
That state budget prioritized education over non-education spending at a 4:1 ratio—again, for the first time in 30 years.
And, that was all accomplished without raising taxes.
Republicans continued to prove their commitment to prioritizing education during the 2015 legislative session, after they had captured an outright majority for the first time since 2004. The Republican-controlled State Senate’s original budget proposal truly put education first—again, without raising taxes. Nearly half of the Senate Republicans’ budget was devoted to education spending.
In the end, Republicans ensured that the state budget truly prioritized our public schools, both K-12 and higher education. And, they ensured working families would not be burdened by higher taxes, by fighting against Democrat tax increase plans (including a new state income tax) and insisting on a no-new-taxes budget.
Given the bare facts, that Rolfes has the audacity to accuse Republican leaders of some type of negligence when it comes to education funding is outrageous hypocrisy. But, that’s not where Rolfes’ deception about Democrats’ commitment to education ends.
Charter schools offer underprivileged students an advantage they otherwise would not have in a system controlled by the Washington Education Association (WEA). Yet, Rolfes and many of her fellow Democrats oppose public charter schools, because their first priority is catering to the WEA—which provides them with generous campaign funds.
The truth is that liberals like Rolfes prefer to advocate for the status-quo system, ignoring existing achievement gaps for poorer kids. Adding insult to injury, they then pretend to be outraged by the problems still facing our public education system.
But, as long as the union leaders at the WEA are paying the piper, Democrat legislators led by House Speaker Frank Chopp will continue singing the tune they are told to.
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