The Washington Education Association (WEA) officially launched its campaign intended to drum-up public support for its 2015 agenda to generate more union dues. We can only assume that the WEA feels the need to do so because of its shrinking influence. As Shift reported, the WEA’s campaign follows the slogan, “It’s TIME… [insert deceptive guise for union executive’s selfish ambition].
It may sound harsh to assume the worst of the WEA’s intentions for its latest public relations stunt. But, based on past experience, it’s the reality.
If the WEA truly cared for prioritizing education spending, it would not continue pumping millions of dollars into electing Democrats who have dominated this state for the past 30 years and who don’t put public education as their first spending priority, as evidenced by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. It would not continue to demand more and more of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars without meaningful reforms.
If the WEA truly cared for prioritizing education spending, the slogan would read: “It’s TIME… to elect Republican leaders.”
The truth is that Democrats have been chronically underfunding 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 years. A Democrat governor has signed every state budget since 1985. Under these heavily Democrat-controlled budgets, the ratio of 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).
Only under recent Republican leadership in the state Senate has our state made meaningful strides in making public education our top priority. Republicans have already proved that simply funding education first can provide education solutions. During the last two legislative sessions, under the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) and Republican leadership, the state budget has prioritized education over non-education spending at a 4:1 ratio for the first time in 30 years. That’s all without raising taxes. The state Supreme Court referred to this change as significant progress.
Of course, the WEA would never use our suggested slogan because its priorities have nothing to do with funding—or improving—education. For the WEA, it’s all about advancing itself regardless of the consequences to children or taxpayers. And, Democrat lawmakers have proved themselves only too willing to advance the WEA’s special interests at the expense of their constituents.
Thomas Ahearne, attorney for the plaintiffs in the McCleary lawsuit, seems to understand the politics at work when it comes to Democrat lawmakers pushing to meet the demands of the WEA. Commenting on the chances of the state Legislature meeting McClearly decision requirements this session, Ahearne said, “There is plenty of money in our general fund today to fund our K-12 schools. There’s not enough money to fund all of this non-paramount stuff and so if more revenue is needed, it’s needed to fund the non-paramount stuff that legislators like to spend money on.”
Indeed, state revenue is projected to go up by $3 billion (an 8 percent growth) above the current budget of $33.8 billion. As GOP state Sen. Andy Hill pointed out, that leaves enough money to meet all of the state’s funding requirements—including fully funding K-12 education.
Unfortunately, the WEA and its Democrat disciples don’t care much for the state’s paramount duties, or “the children” as Democrats like to talk about in campaign ads. Inslee proved it when he proposed his $39 billion budget, complete with historic tax increases to bring about a whopping 15% increase in revenue to fund the agendas of special interest groups including the WEA.
It’s Democrats, once again, supporting bigger government over our public schools – the state’s “paramount duty” – at the beckoning of major campaign supporters like the WEA.