Washington State celebrates 125 years of statehood today. In 1889, the Washington Territory had grown from a population of 1,200 to 350,000 in the course of 39 years. That large population growth helped Washington become the 42nd state in the union.
On its path toward statehood, Washington State officially adopted its state constitution in 1889. And, it’s that constitution the Washington State Supreme Court ruled Democrats in the state Legislature must stop violating in the McCleary decision. The court decided that, after 30 years of budgets signed by Democrat governors (and written by legislatures with at least one body under Democrat leadership for 28 of those 30 years), it was time for the Democrats to start living up to their rhetoric that the state was doing what it could “for the children.”
As SHIFT has reported, with Sen. Andy Hill as budget writer, the state budget re-prioritized spending and added nearly $1 billion more in new money for K-12 schools and froze tuition for the first time in 30 years. The state budget prioritized education over non-education spending at a 4:1 ratio—again, for the first time in 30 years. By contrast, under the Democrat-controlled budgets, the education over non-education spending ratio was 1:2 (that’s two dollars for bigger government for every new dollar of education funding).
Unfortunately, Democrats have refused to accept responsibility for decades of budgets underfunding education under their watch. In fact, Democrats have actually attempted to defer blame to Republicans. Worse, they have even attempted to take credit for the popular education policies passed by the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) in the state Senate despite their own opposition.
The Washington Democrat Party fought to persuade voters this election cycle that Democrat control of the Legislature—including the state Senate—was “absolutely critical” to “bringing back sustainable funding for Washington’s schools.” The implication being that, at some point during the decades of Democrat control in Olympia, there ever was sustainable funding for education. Of course, the state Supreme Court thinks otherwise.
Satisfying the demands of special interests, not the needs of our state’s children, is the number one priority of Democrats. Rather than provide “sustainable funding” for education, Democrats have funded special interest groups– state employee unions, SEIU members, and extreme environmentalists. After all, special interest groups—not children—pump millions into Democrats’ campaigns.
The reality is that Democrats have repeatedly placed the interests of their biggest campaign donors ahead of our state’s children. Here are just a few examples of how Democrats have consciously picked special interests over our children’s futures:
- Jay Inslee conceded to various state employee unions—including million-dollar campaign donors like SEIU 775 and the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE)—and “agreed to raise worker pay by 3 percent in July 2015 and approximately 1.8 percent the following year. Some workers will get additional 2.5 percent raises.” This in the midst of budget shortfalls and the need to fully fund K-12 education via the McClearly Decision.
- Jay Inslee refused take a public stance on the Washington Education Association’s (WEA) latest power grab, Initiative 1351. On election night, when it was much too late to make a difference, Inslee admitted he voted “no” on I-1351 because it would bust the budget and make it impossible to meet the requirements of the McClearly Decision. At our children’s expense, Inslee gave the WEA the gift of his silence. Of course, the WEA donated a million dollars to Inslee’s gubernatorial campaign.
- Service Employee International Union (SEIU) 775 vigorously campaigned on behalf of Democrats, specifically seeking to swing the state Senate back to the Left. Ultimately, the union failed but not before granting insight into Democrats’ future budget priorities. One SEIU 775 campaign mailer read, “Elect legislators who will support us in the next state budget.” The union went on to promise that Democrats will support a new contract that includes raises every six months and average pay of nearly $15 per hour. Of course, all these generous new budget concessions would happen at the expense of our children’s futures.
Meeting the requirements of our state’s 125 year old constitution as defined by the state Supreme Court in the McClearly Decision will be, undoubtedly, a tough feat for Democrats. Luckily, Republicans in the state Senate have a proven track record of prioritizing education.