No, indicted State Auditor Troy Kelley didn’t show up to yesterday’s State of the State address, but that’s not to say there wasn’t a little drama. The chair next to Kelley’s also sat empty, with a note left behind.
That was the attention-getting move by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, who was protesting what he deems a lack of urgency by Gov. Jay Inslee on education funding. The News Tribune reports:
The elected superintendent of public instruction walked into the chambers of the state House along with other statewide elected officials, as is a customary part of the ceremony before the governor’s annual address. But he quickly exited before the governor took the podium, leaving a note on his chair at the front of the chamber.
Dorn later said the note read, “Reserved for kids and students.”
The paper noted that a big sticking point for Dorn, who is not running for re-election this year, was the lack of any proposal to deal with the over-reliance on local levies for education funding. “Inslee’s proposed supplemental budget for 2016 doesn’t include a plan to address the state’s unconstitutional reliance on local property tax levies to pay for basic education costs, something the state Supreme Court said the Legislature must address by 2018 as part of the McCleary education funding lawsuit.”
The issue, known as levy reform, is a difficult topic in Olympia. One proposed solution is to lower local school levies while raising the state property tax by the same amount. That would help the state address the issue of over-relying on local levies without expanding the total amount taxed. The problem with that is, some areas would do better than others under the proposal. The plan would like mean a tax cut in less wealthy school districts while increasing costs in property-rich areas like Seattle and Bellevue.