Washington’s far-left liberals are not happy with the no-new-taxes budget finally passed by the legislature. And, some are reacting by attacking lawmakers for not creating new taxes in order to fund the Washington Education Association’s latest taxpayer money-grab, Initiative 1351. As Shift reported, one such person is John Burbank—the executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute (a so-called “think” tank dedicated to the proposition that the only good government is bigger government).
Burbank wrote an op-ed in which he lashed out at lawmakers for not raising taxes and fully funding I-1351. He claims that lawmakers have done education a disservice by only funding smaller class sizes for grades K-3 (though those are the grades when studies show smaller class sizes actually make a difference). Burbank then calls for lawmakers to apply I-1351 to all grades, using your more of tax dollars.
Burbank argues that our state will face a budget crisis in the future because lawmakers did not pass new taxes this year. Of course, his fix to the impending crisis is… a state income tax. Burbank writes,
“They are about 10,000 families with incomes averaging over $1.2 million. They take home more than a fifth of all income in our state. If we were to tax their income at 5 percent, exempting the first half-million dollars they received, we would have about $2.5 billion in new revenue for the next biennium. With that, we could fully fund I-1351 and reduce tuition by another 25 percent.”
And coincidentally, the WEA is now echoing Burbank’s exact message as a means to promote increasing its union dues. The WEA’s latest appeal reads, “Tell the Politicians: Basic education funding for 100% of Washington students. Not 20%.” It then asks supporters to sign a petition supporting their money grab.
The WEA goes on to state, “Our politicians want you to believe that we can only afford smaller classes for 20% of our public school students. This is simply not true. The solution? A fair revenue plan.” By “fair revenue plan,” the union means a state income tax plan. In fact, a state income tax plan that mimics the plan championed by Burbank.
Check out the messaging similarities between Burbank’s state income tax explanation (above) and the WEA’s explanation. Via the WEA,
“Did you know that 10,000 Washington families earn over $1.2 million each year? You heard it correctly: the top 1% earns over 20% of income in the state…
“We can fix this. A 5% tax applied to income above $500,000 earned by the top 1% would fully fund class-size reductions for all Washington students.”
Both Burbank and the WEA fail to take into account one simple fact: Washington voters have repeatedly rejected a state income tax. Plain and simple: Washingtonians do not want a state income tax.
Additionally, using revenue from a state income tax—even if said income tax was just initially restricted to “the rich” —would not bring about the proverbial rainbows and puppies for all that is promised by Burbank and the WEA. Simply put, smaller classes are not as effective as is so often assumed in later grades.
Taxpayers’ dollars could be put to better use for improving education. In a recent report, the Washington Policy Center points out that spending billions of public dollars to reduce class sizes statewide is not the best way to improve student learning. The lack of effectiveness is important to understand because “spending on class-size reduction means less public money is available for education policies that do benefit children.”
However, being smarter with taxpayer dollars would not generate more dues dollars for the WEA. And, that’s always been the primary concern of the far-left when it comes to education.
It is becoming abundantly apparent that the far-left is—once again—organizing around the idea of a state income tax on “high earners” (which, based on Democrats’ track record, will quickly become an income tax on everyone). For now, the left is aligning its message on a state income tax as a means to fully fund I-1351. You can expect to see this message repeated again and again moving forward.