Democrat state Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (1st LD) is at it again, perceptibly bowing to the interests of the Washington Education Association (WEA). According to the Everett Herald, the top Democrat on education withdrew as co-sponsor of an amendment for the state constitution (Senate Joint Resolution 8201) that would prevent petitioning for any citizen initiative that would keep the state from complying with balanced budget requirements.
SJR 8201 was introduced as a response to the WEA’s Initiative 1351, the pricey so-called class size initiative that had no funding mechanism attached. Given that it was a WEA initiative, McAuliffe supported I-1351.
McAuliffe had been one of the original 34 senators who sponsored the amendment before withdrawing her name. In total, four senators have withdrawn their names, including three Democrats and one Republican.
However, McAuliffe’s decision is particularly interesting given her record of withdrawing from measures that she initially agreed with enough to co-sponsor but with which the WEA dislikes. The last time she pulled the stunt, local school districts across Washington State lost control of $40 million in federal funding.
Last year, it looked like the state Senate had enough votes to pass Senate Bill 5246 and comply with federal requirements for a NCLB waiver. McAuliffe dropped out as co-sponsor of the bill at the last minute, taking the necessary Democrat votes with her. Her decision came after the WEA mounted a formidable lobbying campaign against SB 5246 in order to prevent student test scores to be one of many factors used to evaluate teacher performance.
As Shift reported, McAuliffe has a lot to lose by taking a stand not supported by the WEA. McAuliffe spent most of 2013 trying to retire a $50,000+ debt left over from her 2012 campaign. The WEA proved a big help in paying off the debt.