Jay Inslee is struggling to motivate Democrat voters to contribute to his campaign — the desperate attacks, fake fundraising deadlines, and the low level of contributions have established that fact. But, last week, Inslee took his desperation to a new level by reviving an absurd claim that Democrats have tried (and failed) to advance in the past.
What is this claim?
That Republicans have blocked funding for our public schools, while Democrats have led the effort to increase education funding.
Here is an excerpt from an email Inslee’s campaign sent out last week (supposedly written by a first grade teacher from Wenatchee):
“Governor Inslee helped secure record investments in early childhood education and lowered class sizes for grades K-3… But Republicans have blocked Governor Inslee’s plan to recruit and support more teachers — and they’re fighting his education agenda at every turn. They’re putting tax cuts for special interests above pay raises for our teachers…”
It’s like the Inslee campaign told the first grade teacher who “wrote” the email that they were playing “the opposite game” — that’s one explanation for why every claim appears to be contrary to reality. Another, of course, is that Inslee campaign has resorted to just making things up to make a candidate with no record of accomplishments look better.
As Shift has pointed out in the past, it is Democrats have underfunded education for the past 32 years, as a Democrat governor has signed every state budget since 1985. And Democrats have held power in at least one body of the legislature for 30 of those 32 years.
Ultimately it was the failure of Democrats to adequately fund our public schools – even while spending millions to grow the size of state government over the last generation – that led the State Supreme Court to issue the McCleary decision requiring the state to increase education funding.
Making matters worse, at every opportunity, Democrats like Inslee have prioritized the agenda of their biggest union campaign donor, the Washington Education Association (WEA), over what is best for students.
It’s hard to forget that Inslee refused to state his opinion on the WEA’s power grab initiative, I-1351, until it was too late—even though the initiative threatened lawmakers’ ability to properly fund our public schools. He explained that he did not take a public stance on I-1351 because he did not want to sway voters one way or another. Of course, the real reason probably had a lot more to do with the fact that the WEA donated $1 million to his gubernatorial bid.
Just this legislative cycle, Democrats’ supplemental budget proposal pushed cuts amounting to a whopping $487 million in the next two-year budget cycle intended for meeting McCleary obligations to full fund K-12 education, including reducing class sizes.
As GOP state Senator Steve Litzow stated, “House Democrats’ cut to education funding demonstrates exactly why we’re in the position we are today, facing a state Supreme Court mandate and a system that does not work for all children.”
It is Republicans who managed to breathe new life into our state’s spending priorities when they finally had the opportunity to take the lead in writing the state Senate budget. In 2013, the Majority Caucus Coalition put our kids first and added nearly $1 billion more in new money for K-12 schools (and froze college tuition) for the first time in 30 years.
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.
These facts are what make the claims made by Inslee’s campaign outrageous hypocrisy. It is a blatant attempt to deceive potential donors of Democrats’ (including Jay Inslee’s) commitment to our public schools.