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#1 Fully Fund Schools

#1 Fully Fund Schools

This section includes articles on why and how to Fully Fund Schools by filing a Summary Judgment motion to roll back tax breaks for billionaires and wealthy corporations.  
On July 14, 2016, the Washington Supreme Court ordered the State to appear before it on September 7 2016 to provide specific answers to 8 questions the Supreme Court raised in their Order regarding how and when the legislature will comply with our State Constitution Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools. In this article, I provide my answers to these 8 questions. As the voters have a right to know where each candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction stands on these important issues, I encourage the other candidates for State Superintendent to do the same. If you are concerned about school funding, I hope you will share this article with other parents and teachers – and be sure to mail in your ballot by Tuesday, August 2nd.

Here is a link to the Supreme Court 2016 McCleary Order. It is only a couple of pages long. http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/OrderMcClearyv.StateofWashington071416.pdf

Here are a couple of slightly edited quotes from the Order: “Before making a decision on whether the State is in compliance, we will hear from the parties on precisely what the legislature has accomplished, what remains to be accomplished...The 2017 legislative session presents the last opportunity for complying with the State's paramount duty by 2018. At this juncture, seven years since enactment of ESHB 2261 and six years since enactment of SHB 2776, the State can certainly set out for the court and the people of Washington the detailed steps it must take to accomplish its goals by the end of the next legislative session. Therefore, by unanimous vote, the court directs the parties to appear before the court on September 7, 2016, for oral argument… where the State will be expected to provide specific and detailed answers to the following eight questions:

(a) whether the State views the 2018 deadline as referring to the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, to the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, to the end of 2018, or to some other date;

(b) whether E2SSB 6195, when read together with ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776, satisfies this court's January 9, 2014, order for a plan and, if not, what opportunities, if any, remain for the legislature to provide the plan required by that January 9, 2014, order;

(c) the estimated current cost of full state funding of the program of basic education... including, but not limited to, the costs of materials, supplies, and operating costs; transportation; and reduced class sizes for kindergarten through third grade and all-day kindergarten, with the costs of reduced class sizes and all-day kindergarten to include the estimated capital costs;

(d) the estimated cost of full state funding of competitive education staff salaries, including the costs of recruiting and retaining competent staff;

(e) the components of basic education, if any, the State has fully funded in light of the costs specified above;

(f) the components of basic education, including basic education staff salaries, the State has not yet fully funded in light of the costs specified above, the cost of achieving full state funding and how the State intends to meet its constitutional obligation to implement its plan of basic education through dependable and regular revenue sources by that deadline;

(g) whether this court should dismiss the contempt order or continue sanctions; and

(h) any additional information that will demonstrate to the court how the State will fully comply with article IX, section 1 by 2018.”

Here are my answers to the eight questions raised by our State Supreme Court:

#1 What is the exact 2018 Deadline?
(a) whether the State views the 2018 deadline as referring to the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, to the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, to the end of 2018, or to some other date;


There has been a lot of debate about what the deadline is for the State legislature to honor our State Constitution. The plaintiffs have claimed that it is the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. Some in the legislature have claimed that they do not need to fully fund the schools even by the 2018- 2019 school year. My view is that even a one day violation of a student’s right to an education is a severe violation of our state constitution. Imagine a reckless driver going 75 MPH in a 25 MPH school zone – endangering the lives of students. The reckless driver then goes before the court and tells the judge they will start obeying the speeding laws 6 or 7 years from now. The court should not accept any delay in obeying the law. Justice delayed is justice denied. Students are harmed much more by being forced to attend the most over-crowded and under-funded schools in the nation than they are by a reckless driver. Our kids have only one chance at a quality education. For the legislature to claim they can delay funding schools past September 2017 is reckless, irresponsible, immoral and against the clear language of the Washington State Constitution.

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As a practical matter, the legislature must plan and provide for state funding months and years before it is actually needed. For example, the 2017 legislative session, also called the long session, is supposed to create a fiscal plan for the two year period that begins on July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2019. This includes both the September 2017 to June 2018 school year and the September 2018 to June 2019 school year. However, this fiscal spending plan is based on a revenue plan that must precede spending. Any tax changes from the 2017 legislative session, whether they are property tax changes or other tax changes, would not go into effect until January 2018 – to late to provide funds for the September 2017 school year. Schools would need to be built prior to September 2017. Since it takes at least one year to build a new school, the construction would need to have been started in the summer of 2016 and teachers would need to be hire by July 2017. Therefore it is already too late for the State to comply with the McCleary Order by September 2017 regardless of what the 2017 legislature does!

#2 Is the Plan to Create a Plan (aka Senate Bill 6195) is a real plan?
(b) whether E2SSB 6195, when read together with ESHB 2261 and SHB 2776, satisfies this court's January 9, 2014, order for a plan and, if not, what opportunities, if any, remain for the legislature to provide the plan required by that January 9, 2014, order;


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I testified against Senate Bill 6095, the plan to create a plan, because it is a worthless fake “kick the can down the road” exercise that pretends that the legislature does not know what it costs to fund schools – even though the legislature has had more than six previous planning committees answer the exact same questions that the new committee is asking.

The previous plan completed in 2012 did a detailed analysis of the cost to pay for House Bill 2261 and Senate Bill 2776 and concluded that it would cost about $6 billion in operating costs per year. This included one billion to restore teacher pay and one billion to replace illegal local levies. But it did not include the cost of school construction. Since our state has a $30 billion school construction backlog with half of our schools not meeting either the health code or earthquake standards, providing every student with a safe and healthy school would cost an additional $3 billion per year for the next 10 years. This brings the total known cost up to more than $9 billion per year – essentially doubling school funding – which is exactly what I have proposed doing throughout my campaign. This would also address the Class Size Initiative which is also part of state law and basic education. See page 49 of the following report. http://www.k12.wa.us/Compensation/CompTechWorkGroupReport/CompTechWorkGroup.pdf

My proposal is to ask the Supreme Court to repeal all 700 illegal tax breaks to wealthy corporations (which are contrary to several sections of our state constitution).

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This would provide not only provide an additional $9 billion annually to to fully fund our schools but also provide every student in our state with a free college education and/or vocational training AND also end child homelessness.

Sadly, no other candidates for Superintendent have any plan to provide the $9 billion annually to fully fund our schools. In fact, no one in the legislature has any plan to provide more than a small fraction of the $9 billion in additional revenue needed to fund school operation and construction. So the answer to whether Senate Bill 6095 would meet the McCleary obligation is No.

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The State will claim that the legislature will find a way to fund our schools in the 2017 session. But the fact is that Olympia is completely owned by wealthy corporations so there is no chance that they will repeal the billions in tax breaks for wealthy corporations. Instead, they will likely be completely gridlocked, fake their way through several “do-nothing” special sessions and then present yet another fake plan to the Supreme Court. And our kids will be forced to deal with yet another year of the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.

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#3 What is the cost of full state funding for public schools?

(c) the estimated cost of full state funding of basic education... including, but not limited to, the costs of materials, supplies, and operating costs; transportation; and reduced class sizes for kindergarten through third grade and all-day kindergarten, with the costs of reduced class sizes and all-day kindergarten to include the capital costs;

As noted above, a 2012 highly detailed study estimated that the cost was an additional $6 billion in operating costs. The study did not include capital school construction costs. Adding $3 billion per year for the next 10 years, the total additional revenue needed is more than $9 billion per year.

#4 What is the additional cost needed to end the teacher shortage?

(d) the estimated cost of full state funding of competitive education staff salaries, including the costs of recruiting and retaining competent staff;

Washington state has the 4th lowest paid and most overworked teachers in the nation. The 2012 study estimated that it would cost at least one billion additional dollars just to restore teacher pay to what it was in the 1990s. Hiring additional teachers and staff to lower class sizes as required by the Class Size Initiative would require several more billion dollars.

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#5 What has the legislature done since the January 2012 McCleary Order?

(e) the components of basic education, if any, the State has fully funded in light of the costs specified above;

Many in the legislature claim that the legislature has put billions of additional dollars into funding our schools in the past four years. But all the legislature really did was move money around from one account to another. The fact is that since the January 2012 Supreme Court order the number of students in our schools has increased by more than 32,000 students while the number of teachers declined by more than 1,000 teachers!

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Every year, our school funding crisis has gotten worse and worse and class sizes have gotten higher and higher. So the honest answer to the Supreme Court’s question is that the legislature has not done anything at all to improve school funding in Washington state.

#6 How the legislature will come up with the additional $9 billion from dependable revenue sources? (f) the components of basic education, including staff salaries, the State has not yet fully funded in light of the costs specified above, the cost of achieving full state funding and how the State intends to meet its constitutional obligation to implement its plan of basic education through dependable and regular revenue sources;

Currently, the legislature is under-funding our schools by at least $9 billion per year. This includes one to two billion dollars in illegal, unfair and unconstitutional local levy funds – which have creates a system of rich school districts that can pass school levies and poor school districts that cannot pass school levies. The $9 billion dollar question is how the legislature will suddenly come up with the needed $9 billion in 2017 when they have done next to nothing during the past four years.

The only solution to this crisis is to understand where the robbery went in the first place. Since 1996 (the last time school funding in Washington state was above the national average), the legislature has passed an additional 300 tax breaks costing our schools $16 billion per year in lost revenue. It is only by repealing these illegal tax breaks to wealthy corporations that we have any hope at all of restoring school funding. But the problem is that the legislature is owned by these very wealthy corporations. So there will be no reductions in corporate tax breaks.

So it will be up to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to use Article 3, Section 22 of the State Constitution to go around the legislature and directly to the Supreme Court asking them to declare these tax breaks to be unconstitutional. If I am elected, I will do this during my first week in office.

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Sadly, none of the other candidates are willing to take on the corporate welfare that is preventing us from fully funding our schools. So if I am not elected, our kids will be forced to endure yet another 4 years of the lowest funded most over-crowded schools in the nation.

#7 Should the Supreme Court continue sanctions?
(g) whether this court should dismiss the contempt order or continue sanctions;


The Supreme Court should not only continue the sanctions, they should state that if the legislature does not fully fund our schools by July 1, 2017, that the Court will declare all 700 corporate tax breaks to be null and void.

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#8 Additional Evidence that the legislature will NOT comply with their Paramount Duty to fully fund or schools? (h) any additional information that will demonstrate to the court how the State will fully comply with article IX, section 1 by 2018.

There are a whole host of reasons to conclude that the legislature will NEVER comply with their Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools. First, despite a direct order to pay a fine of $100,000 per day deposited into a fund dedicated for education, the legislature refused to pay the fine. Second, the legislature responded to the Class Size Initiative by delaying it for several years. Third, even after the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the legislature failed to comply with their Paramount Duty to fund our schools, the legislature passed the second Boeing Tax Break - the largest tax break in the history of the planet. Fourth, since 2012, the legislature has continued to pass many tax breaks while no one in the legislature even submitted a single bill to fully fund our public schools. Fifth, the legislature has failed to fully fund our schools for more than 20 years – 1996 being the last time school funding in Washington state was above the national average.

But perhaps the strongest evidence that our current legislature has no intention of ever funding our schools is a line buried on about Page 200 of every annual appropriations bill passed since 2012 - prohibiting the State Health Department from even testing whether schools are meeting health and safety standards. The leaders of the legislature know that half of our schools are more than 50 years old and do not meet health code standards. Half of our schools do not meet earthquake code standards. Given that we have more than 2000 schools, this means that more than 1000 schools in Washington state are not a safe, healthy place for our kids. At an average replacement cost of $30 million per school, it would take more than $30 billion to rebuild these 1,0000 dangerous schools.

So what is the legislature’s response to this crisis? Every year for the past four years, they have included a line in the annual Appropriations bill prohibiting the State Department of Health from documenting the health and safety problems of our schools. Even worse, our current State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, is also aware of this Code of Silence and has actively helped to keep parents in the dark about the dangerous state of our public schools.

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What will happen when the legislature fails to fully fund our schools in 2017?
The current Superintendent has submitted two briefs to the Court. The first one asked the Court to shut down our public schools being July 1, 2017. The second asked the Court to declare one billion dollars in local levies to be unconstitutional – thus depriving local school districts of one billion dollars at a time when they are already grossly underfunded. If the Court takes either of these actions, it will severely harm our students when the real culprits are the State legislature and the wealthy corporations who use illegal tax breaks to rob our schools of billions of dollars.


More important, closing schools or depriving them of funds is not likely to solve the school funding crisis. The only action that will solve the school funding crisis is for the Court to declare billions in tax breaks for wealthy corporations to be unconstitutional.

Sadly, parents in Washington state seem to be asleep on the importance of this election for State Superintendent and the role they could play in restoring full funding for our schools. With only three days left for parents to mail in their ballots, only 15% of ballots have been received. At this rate, it is possible that only one in four of Washington’s four million registered voters will turn in their ballots. I therefore urge you to email every parent and teacher you know and encourage them to mail in their ballot by Tuesday August 2nd.

As always, I look forward to your questions and comments.

Regards,David Spring M. Ed.

Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction
On June 9, 2016, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn asked our Supreme Court to close our public schools due to the fact that the legislature has failed to adequately fund them. On July 19, 2016, Dorn added insult to injury by asking the Court to declare about one billion dollars in local levies to be unconstitutional. Dorn is hoping these actions will force the legislature to act. But what if the legislature does not act? There are two devastating adverse consequences of depriving schools of one billion dollars in local funds. First, teacher salaries in our state would plunge to the lowest in the nation. (Washington teachers are already the fourth lowest paid in the nation and the most over-worked in the nation due to the fact that our class sizes are the highest in the nation). Second, the loss of one billion dollars could result in more than 10,000 teachers losing their jobs - causing class sizes to rise from 32 students to 35 students per class. In this article, we will explain why Dorn's lawsuit is not only harmful to students and teachers - it is contrary to the Washington state constitution. If you care about the future of our public schools, please share this important article with other parents and teachers.

In a previous article, I explained why closing schools was not an effective way to force the legislature to fully fund schools. Here is a link to this article:

https://springforbetterschools.org/1-fully-fund-schools/why-the-superintendent-should-not-blackmail-the-legislature-with-the-threat-of-closing-schools

In this article, we will look at the legal and Constitutional ramifications of robbing schools of one billion dollars in local funds at a time when the legislature has failed to adequately fund them. Here is a link to the Dorn Lawsuit in case you want to read it: http://www.k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2016/ComplaintAsFiled.pdf


Here is a quote from Dorn's Press Release: "Today, I filed a lawsuit against seven school districts, demanding that they stop using special levies to pay supplemental contracts for teachers... Using local levies to pay for basic education costs – which includes some teacher salaries – is unconstitutional."


The complaint was filed against seven of the largest school districts in the state including the Seattle School District, the Everett School District, the Bellevue School District, the Spokane School District, the Tacoma School District, the Evergreen School District and the Puyallup School District. Together these 7 school districts serve about 200,000 students or one in every five students in our state. But in reality, this complaint would affect every school district using local levy funds to offset the lack of state funds to pay teachers. This includes nearly every major school district in our state.

First, we should understand that at a surface level, Dorn is correct. Our State Constitution and several State Supreme Court rulings over the past 36 years have made it clear that the state legislature cannot substitute unstable and unfair local funds for stable and uniform state funding. But our courts have never found local school districts guilty of violating our state constitution. Instead, they have properly found that it was the State legislature that had failed to comply with our State Constitution.

Our current levy system - which provides more than $2 billion to public schools is clearly unconstitutional because it violates Article 9, Section 2 of the Washington State Constitution. The first sentence in Article 9, Section 2 states: "The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools."

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Local levies are unconstitutional because they lead to a system of rich school districts that can pass levies and poor school districts that can not. But Article 9, Section 2 is preceded by a more important duty in Article 9, Section 1 which states: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex."

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Put plainly, Article 9 Section 1 is more important than Article 9 Section 2 because it is the Paramount or most important Duty of the State to provide ample funding for our schools. Obviously, gutting a billion dollars in school funding at a time when our schools are already among the lowest funded and overcrowded schools in the nation would be contrary to the plain meaning of Article 9, Section 1.

So what happens when there is a conflict between two sections of the State Constitution? The most common and basic rule of judicial interpretation is that the Constitution must be read not as a series of isolated passages but read and given effect as a whole document.

The Court is guided by the basic principle that a statute should be read as a harmonious whole, with its separate parts being interpreted within the broader statutory context... The cardinal rule of construction is that the whole statute should be drawn upon.” 2011 Congressional Research Service https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/97-589.pdf

We must not be guided by a single sentence but look to the provisions of the whole law and to its object and policy.” US Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney 1850

Dorn has failed to consider the whole constitution because he filed a lawsuit that seeks to enforce Article 9 Section 2 while ignoring the plain meaning of Article 9 Section 1. He claims he is filing this lawsuit in order to force the legislature to honor Article 9, Section 1. But the Court cannot assume that the legislature will in fact honor Article 9. Section 1. Nor can the Court ignore one section of the State Constitution in order to enforce another section of the State Constitution.

Thankfully, there is a way for the Court to solve this dilemma. The Court should find that local levies are unconstitutional (something the Court has already stated several times). But the Court should also find that local school districts may use local levies to pay for basic education teachers salaries since the legislature has failed in its Paramount Duty to amply fund our public schools. The Court should make it clear that school districts will not be required to comply with the Constitution until after the legislature has complied with their Paramount Duty to fund our schools.

To find otherwise would be to punish school districts and students for a problem created by the legislature. To be clear, school districts and students are the innocent victims of a crime – a crime being committed by our state legislature. To punish school districts for using local funds to pay for teachers would be like punishing drivers for the fact that they are caught in a traffic jam and are therefore driving at 50 MPH below the speed limit. It is the legislature who created the traffic jam by failing to fund our roads. The drivers of cars have no other choice but to do what they can under circumstances beyond their control to make it through the nightmare created by an irresponsible legislature.

Dorn's lawsuit against school districts is equally reckless and irresponsible. It deals with a symptom of the school funding problem and not the actual cause of the problem. The actual cause of the school funding crisis is that the legislature is giving away $4 in illegal tax breaks to wealthy multinational corporations for every dollar it invests in our public schools. Corporate welfare is a crime against our kids and our school districts. It is basic math. We cannot afford to give away billions of dollars in tax breaks to wealthy corporations and still have enough money left to amply fund our schools.

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Dorn should not be trying to blackmail local school districts. Instead, he should be asking the Court to declare billions of dollars in tax breaks to wealthy corporations to be unconstitutional. These tax breaks violate several sections of our state constitution – including Article 2, Section 28.

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Out of control corporate welfare is the real reason our schools are among the lowest funded and overcrowded in the nation. What we really need are leaders in Olympia who are willing to tell the truth about this problem, willing to enforce EVERY SECTION of our State Constitution and willing to take on these wealthy powerful corporations and insist that they pay their fair share in state taxes so that our kids can have low class sizes in order to get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life.

Regards,
David Spring M. Ed.
Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction
springforbetterschools.org
For the past 8 years, I have been trying to convince the Washington legislature to repeal billions in tax breaks for wealthy corporations so we can restore school funding and lower class sizes. More recently, the McCleary Plaintiffs have asked our Supreme Court to declare these tax exemptions to be unconstitutional. The non-profit group, Washington Paramount Duty (WPD) has also filed an Amicus Brief asking our Supreme Court to declare these tax breaks to suspended if the legislature fails to fully fund our schools by July 2017. Our Supreme Court has declared both verbally and in their written orders that this is one of the options they are considering. However, our Attorney General now claims that our Supreme Court does not have the power to repeal these tax breaks. In this report, we will take a close look at the meaning, purpose and history of our State Constitution. This history makes it clear that not only does our Supreme Court have the power to repeal these illegal tax breaks - but that our State Constitution REQUIRES our Supreme Court to repeal these tax breaks! Please share this important report with other parents and teachers.
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It is basic math. We cannot allow our legislature to give away $36 billion per year in tax breaks for wealthy corporations and still have enough money left to fully fund our schools and lower class sizes. This is why in their latest filing to the Supreme Court on June 17 2016, the plaintiffs for the McCleary case specifically asked the Court to declare tax breaks to be unconstitutional. Here is a quote from their brief:

"Plaintiffs continue to believe the most effective options to compel the significant revenue and funding actions needed to comply in that 2017 regular session are the school statute and tax exemption statute options discussed in plaintiffs’ prior filings... have all tax exemption statutes enacted by the legislature (before amply funding K-12 schools) struck down as unconstitutional, effective the first day of the 2017-2018 school year."
http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/PlaintiffsConsolidatedAnswerToJune7AmicusBriefs.pdf


Here is what the State Attorney General claimed in his June 17 2016 response to the Plaintiffs brief: "This argument puts the Court on a slippery slope that slides across constitutional limitations imposed by separation of powers. Under their approach, the Court could reach out to invalidate any statute enacted in 2013, 2014, or 2015 that has any effect on state revenue or spending. As explained in prior briefing, the Court is not constitutionally free to assume the legislative function... The Washington Constitution does not confer on Plaintiffs—or on the Superintendent of Public Instruction, for that matter—the authority to, determine the measure of ample funding under article IX, section 1. It is for the Legislature to determine in the first instance what constitutes "ample provision" for the State's program of basic education."
http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/619aReply_AmResp20160617.pdf

Obviously, the McCleary Plaintiffs and the Attorney General can not both be right. Does our Supreme Court have the power to repeal tax breaks?

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In order to help parents, teachers, other voters (and even our Supreme Court) determine who is right in this debate, we will take a trip down memory lane back to 1889 and the drafting of the Washington state constitution.

Many in the Washington legislature claim they increased school funding by nearly $5 billion in the past 4 years. If our schools have $5 billion more than they had 4 years ago, then why do our schools have one thousand fewer teachers than we had 4 years ago? In their June 17 2016 court filing, the McCleary plaintiffs claimed that the $5 billion increase in funding was an "illusion" and less than a mere "maintenance level of status quo education funding." In this report, we will decode the fake $5 billion increase in school funding in Washington state to explain why the McCleary plaintiffs are correct. Don't be fooled by dishonest legislators. Our schools are facing a funding crisis that is getting worse every year. Our class sizes are among the highest in the nation and getting higher every year. Class sizes are so high that teachers are quitting in droves. Half of our schools do not even have enough qualified math and science teachers. Legislators who claim that they are "making progress on school funding" should be ashamed of themselves. There has been no progress at all in the past 4 years. Please share this important report with parents and teachers.

We will begin with a quote from the State legislature's latest June 17 2016 filing to the Washington Supreme Court: "The State has made very real and concrete progress since 2012. In attempting to discredit that progress, Plaintiffs wrongly claim that the $4.8 billion increase in education funding between the 2011-13 biennium and the 2015-17 biennium is illusory and is actually less than if the State had merely maintained the "status quo" level of services... The enacted public schools budget for 2015-17 was $18.2 billion. That was an increase from the approximately $15.3 billion for public schools in 2013-15, which had increased from approximately $13.4 billion in the 2011-13 budget." http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/619aReply_AmResp20160617.pdf

Here is a chart showing biennial (two year) state spending on our public schools since the beginning of the 2007 McCleary Education Funding Case:

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It certainly looks like there was nearly a $5 billion increase in state spending on our public schools in the past 4 years. This would be a 36% increase in school funding!

But if there was really a 36% increase in school funding, then why wasn't there a 36% increase in the number of teachers? Why did the number of teachers go down by one thousand rather than going up by ten thousand? The McCleary Plaintiffs have called this $4.8 billion ($2.4 billion per year) increase in spending an "illusion" because it is less than what would have been spent by a mere "maintenance of service" budget. To understand this, let's look at a Maintenance of Service budget. A Maintenance of Service budget includes adjusting for the increased cost of living from year to year plus the increase in the number of students. A Maintenance of Service budget would have involved an increase of about 5% per year or 10% per biennium. To keep the math simple, we will assume that 10% is $1.4 billion per biennium (10% of $14 billion).

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Thus, a Maintenance of Services budget would have resulted in school funding being nearly one billion dollars greater than the $4.8 billion increase the legislature is bragging about. Here is a chart of the increase in the number of students in Washington State since January 2012 from the OSPI Report Card:

On June 9, 2016, Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction, Randy Dorn, submitted a brief to the Washington Supreme Court urging them to shut down all public schools in Washington state in order to blackmail the legislature into complying with their constitutional "Paramount Duty" to fully fund our public schools. As at least one candidate for Superintendent, Chris Reykdal, has praised Randy for taking this action, I want to explain why I think closing our schools is harmful to our kids and why if I am elected Superintendent, I will do everything in my power to oppose closing our public schools. There are better options that do not involve holding our children hostage. If you agree, please share this important article with other parents and teachers.

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I realize that our State has among the lowest school funding and highest class sizes in the nation - with an average of 32 kids per class. Our teachers are the fourth lowest paid in the nation. Over half of our schools do not have enough qualified math and science teachers. Over half of our schools do not meet the health codes or earthquake safety standards. Over the past 10 years, no one has been more critical of our state legislature's grotesque failure to fund our schools than me. I agree that something must be done to restore school funding. But there are several problems with closing our public schools. The first of these problems is what kind of message it will send to our children about how little we care about them and their schools. My mom always told me "Two wrongs do not make a right." Just because the legislature has committed one crime against our kids by failing to fund our schools does not give our courts or the Superintendent the right to commit another crime against our kids by closing their schools. We can and must fund another way to immediately restore school funding.

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Let's begin by looking at the argument being used by Dorn, Reykdal and others in favor of closing schools. They point out that after July 1, 1976, when the New Jersey court shut down schools, the New Jersey legislature passed a state income tax 8 days later. Dorn and Reykdal have claimed that the reason Washington state cannot fund schools is due to a lack of an income tax and/or lack of a capital gains tax. They reason that shutting down the schools in Washington state would put political pressure on Washington legislators to pass an income tax and/or a capital gains tax in our state.

There are several problems with this argument. First, the fact that school funding in Washington is now the lowest in the nation is NOT because of a lack of an income tax or the lack of a capital gains tax. In 1982, Washington had among the highest school funding in the nation - and we did not have an income tax or capital gains tax then. The reason school funding has plunged in Washington state is because the Washington legislature now gives away more than 700 tax exemptions to wealthy corporations totally more than $36 billion per year. It is basic math. We cannot allow our legislature to give away billions in tax breaks every year and still have enough money to fund our schools. But instead of dealing with the real cause of our school funding crisis, many in Olympia would rather blame the lack of an income tax.

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Second, the income tax enacted in New Jersey in 1976 does not actually go towards increasing school funding. Instead, it is required by law to be used to reduce property taxes in New Jersey. Ironically, 30 years after passing property tax relief, property taxes in New Jersey are still the highest in the nation. Also, the New Jersey income tax did not actually solve the school funding problem in New Jersey. Just 5 years later, in 1981, there was another school funding lawsuit in New Jersey. The second lawsuit lasted for 9 more years until 1990. In 1997, after a tax payer revolt, the New Jersey Supreme Court had to step in again. It was only in 2009, after 20 NJ Supreme Court rulings that the Court found that the NJ legislature had complied with the New Jersey Constitution.

But no sooner had the ink dried on the new school funding plan when a new Governor named Chris Christie, slashed a billion dollars from the NJ school budget - causing the schools to go back to court in 2010. In 2016, Christie even threatened to shut down schools in New Jersey due to a lack of money. So the education funding problems remain in New Jersey despite the 1976 school closure and despite the adoption of a state income tax. Do we really want 40 more years of constant litigation and finger pointing in Washington state before our schools are fully funded?

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Third, there is the amount of money needed. According to the latest Public Education Finances Report, Table 12, New Jersey spends 5% of its income on its public schools (second in the nation) while Washington spends 3% of income on its public schools (46th in the nation). The difference of two percent may not seem like much. But because one percent of Washington revenue is about $3 billion per year, it would take an increase in school spending in our state of $6 billion per year just to match New Jersey school spending. This does not include school construction. Washington state also has the highest school construction backlog in the nation at $30 billion. It would take $3 billion more per year times 10 years just to give every child in our state a safe and healthy school to attend. So we need $9 billion in additional revenue per year to restore school funding in our state and lower class sizes. If we believe that our State Constitution also requires full funding for Higher Education and Vocational Training, then we need another $3 billion - for a total of $12 billion. A state income tax like Initiative 1098 (rejected by the Washington voters by a 2 to 1 margin a couple of years ago) would only raise one billion dollars per year. A capital gains tax proposed by Reykdal would also only raise one billion dollars per year.

Meanwhile repealing 300 to 700 tax breaks would raise $16 billion to $32 billion per year. So it is absurd to be threatening to close schools and talking about an income tax and capital gains tax when both of these things ignore the real problem and would only raise a very small fraction of the revenue needed even if they did through some miracle pass in the Washington state legislature.

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Some have also tried to compare our state to Kansas where the Supreme Court recently threated to shut down schools if the state legislature did not provide more money. In Kansas, they are only arguing over about $100 million which is only one percent of what we need here in Washington state. Kansas spends 3.7% of revenue on schools (26th in the nation). So even if the Kansas legislature did not spend a single additional penny on their schools, they still would be spending much more on their schools than the Washington legislature spends on our schools.

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The bottom line is that school funding in New Jersey is almost twice as much as Washington state and school funding in Kansas is 20% higher than Washington state. So Washington is not New Jersey and we are not even Kansas. Our school funding crisis is much worse than either one of those states. So if schools were closed in Washington state, the legislature would have to come up with billions of dollars more than either the New Jersey legislature or the Kansas legislature before school funding in our state would be constitutional.

The third problem with closing our schools is political reality versus wishful thinking. The political reality of the Washington State legislature is that, despite a direct order from our Supreme Court to pay a $36 million per year fine for violating the constitutional rights of one million children to a decent education, the 2016 Washington legislature refused to pay the fine - which was only $36 per child - despite having more than one billion dollars in their Rainy Day Slush Fund. If the State legislature refuses to pay $36 million per year, there is no chance in hell that they are going to find a way to provide $9 billion in additional funding next year - or any other year! Instead of increasing school funding like they did in New Jersey, Washington is much more likely to follow in the footsteps of Ohio where after 18 long years of litigation, from 1991 to 2009, the Ohio Supreme Court threw in the towel. Shortly after, school funding in Ohio was cut by nearly one billion dollars.

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Today, many in the Washington state legislature, including Chris Reykdal, have boasted that they have increased school funding by nearly $5 billion during the past few years. In fact, all they have really done is shuffled funds around from one account to another. The fact is that in the past 4 years, since our Supreme Court declared that the legislature had failed to fully fund our schools, the number of students in our schools has increased by more than 32,000 - but the number of teachers has declined by more than one thousand! Every year our school funding crisis has gotten worse!

In fact, it is likely that the 2017 legislature is going to cut funding for schools instead of raising it. Why? There is something called the Levy Cliff which is a $400 million automatic cut which is almost certain to take place in April 2017. This will mean that 4,000 teachers will have to be laid off in May 2017 - with half of those firings occurring in Levy Dependent King County.

To make matters worse, the 2017 legislature is also likely to pass what is called the Levy Swap, another scam Reykdal is in favor of, which would transfer one billion dollars from school districts in King County to school districts in other counties. This would lead to the loss of another 1,000 teachers in King County in May 2017.

What a minute. Didn't the Teachers Union endorse Reykdal? Sadly, they did - despite the fact that Reykdal voted against the teacher "Cost of Living Adjustment" in 2013 costing teachers about $300 million per year in lost wages (See 2013 House Bill 2043). There is a need for new leadership in the Teachers Union just like there is a need for new leadership in State Government. If Reykdal is elected Superintendent, the teachers will have no one but themselves to blame when thousands of teachers are fired next May and the school funding crisis is continued for four more years.

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The fourth problem with closing schools in an attempt to blackmail the legislature into increasing school funding is that the legislature may actually increase school funding by one or two billion dollars. But they will do it not by an income tax or capital gains tax but by gutting other essential state services - like cutting one billion dollars from the Higher Education budget - the last large sum of money that is not protected.

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The legislature has gotten very good at robbing Peter to pay Paul. The perfect example of how dishonest and corrupt our State legislature has become is the recently passed 4 year "Official State Budget". Here is the link to this deceptive document: http://www.erfc.wa.gov/budget/documents/20160518_Outlook.pdf

The legislature had the audacity to refer to this report as a reason why our Supreme Court should stop fining them. The report claims that K-12 spending will increase from $8.7 billion in Fiscal 2016 (which begins on July 1 2016 and is the 2016-2017 school year) to $9.9 billion in Fiscal 2019 (which is the 2019-2020 school year). On paper, this appears to be an increase in school funding of $1.2 billion per year. There are two problems with this increase. First, It is only 10% of what is actually needed. Second, like everything else in Olympia, it is completely fake. If you scroll down the page to the Projected Ending Balance, you will see that the Fiscal 2016 End Fund Balance is more than one billion dollars. But by Fiscal 2019, the End Fund Balance is a NEGATIVE $300 million for a loss of $1.3 billion. The problem with losing $1.3 billion is that our State Treasurer and the Bond Market would have a fit. Washington's credit rating would plummet. But more important, the Washington State Constitution prohibits going into this kind of debt. Our State is not allowed to have a negative ending balance.

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Once again, the school funding crisis in our state is getting worse not better.

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The fifth and final problem of closing schools and hoping the legislature will pass an income tax or capital gains tax is that it does not deal with the underlying cause of our school funding crisis - which is that our state legislature is currently giving away $36 billion in tax breaks to billionaires and wealthy multinational corporations. A basic principle of problem solving is that an effective longterm solution must not only solve the problem but it must also address the underlying cause of the problem.

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In short, there are many problems with closing our public schools. Instead of closing schools, we should be closing corporate tax loopholes and ending corporate welfare.

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Thankfully, there is a much better option. Rather than continuing to beg the legislature to fully fund our schools, if I am elected Superintendent, I will go around the legislature and directly to our Supreme Court asking them to repeal every tax break passed by the legislature since 1996 (which was the last year school funding in our state was above the national average). Our Supreme Court cannot write new laws. But they certainly can and have many times declared unconstitutional laws to be null and void. This would immediately provide more than $16 billion per year which would allow us to build hundreds of schools, hire thousands of teachers and cut class sizes in half so that struggling students could finally get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life. In addition, it would pay for four full years of free higher education and/or vocational training for every student in Washington state.

But isn't it the Paramount Duty of the State Legislature to amply fund our schools?
All of my opponents have claimed that it is not the duty of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to fully fund our schools. It is only the duty of the State Legislature. However, if you take a very close look at Article 9, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution, you will discover that it does not assign the Paramount Duty to amply fund schools to the State legislature. Instead, the Paramount Duty is the duty of the entire State.

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The State includes not only the State legislature but also the Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is therefore not only one of the duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to make sure our schools are fully funded - but it is the Paramount Duty of the Superintendent to make sure our schools are fully funded. The Superintendent has just as much responsibility for funding our schools as the state legislature!

Does the Superintendent have the legal authority to ask the Supreme Court to repeal illegal tax breaks for wealthy multinational corporations?
According to my opponents, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is merely a figurehead with no real power - merely a cheerleader for school funding. But that is not what the drafters of our state constitution intended. They were afraid that a corrupt state legislature might not fully fund our schools. So they created a separately elected Superintendent of Public Instruction who was given the duty to supervise ALL MATTERS related to public schools. The phrase ALL MATTERS includes the matter of fully funding our schools.

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Wouldn't repealing billions in tax breaks cost jobs?
No. Numerous studies have shown that tax breaks for wealthy corporations do not create jobs - they cost jobs by taking money out of our economy and putting in the hands of a few billionaires. Look at Boeing. They have been given billions in tax breaks and what did they do with all of this money? They used it to build an airplane plant in South Carolina - which will eventually take away more than 100,000 jobs!

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Meanwhile, cutting tax breaks by $16 billion would create hundreds of thousands of urgently needed living wage jobs right here in Washington state - building hundreds of schools and staffing them with thousands of teachers.

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Close Schools or Close Tax Loopholes... The Choice is Up to You!
Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting a different result. This is what the current election for Superintendent is about - whether we will continue down the pathway towards closing schools - or whether we will have the political courage to close tax loopholes and require wealthy corporations to pay their fair share of state taxes so our kids can get the education they need and deserve.

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We have been begging the legislature for more than 20 years to restore school funding and every year it has only gotten worse. It is time for the begging to stop. Our kids deserve better than this.

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It is time for a different approach. Its past time to end the gridlock, excuses and delays in Olympia. Our kids simply cannot afford another 4 years of the highest class sizes in the nation. As a person who has spent more than 20 years teaching courses in Problem Solving, I will bring urgently needed new leadership to Olympia. As always, we look forward to your questions and comments.

Regards, David Spring M. Ed.

Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

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According to a January 2015 study of tax rates in all 50 states by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, called "Who Pays", Washington families pay among the highest state taxes in the nation - 20% above the national average. Washington families should therefore have the best funded schools and lowest class sizes in the nation. Instead, Washington's one million children are forced to endure the highest class sizes in the nation. How can this be? In this report, we will "follow the money" to see how the Washington state legislature is robbing our schools of billions of dollars and robbing our children of their future in order to line the pockets of a few billionaires and wealthy multinational corporations.


Why Small Class Sizes are Important
Small class sizes matter to the future of our students because small class sizes allow struggling students to get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life. For example, the nation's largest study on class sizes found thatlow income students who were lucky enough to have four full years of smaller classes were much more likely to graduate than their peers who had years in smaller class sizes:
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Source: Finn, J. D., et. al. (2005). Small Classes in the Early Grades, Academic Achievement, and Graduating From High SchoolJournal of Educational Psychology.
http://www.classsizematters.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Small-Classes-in-the-Early-Grades-Academic-Achievement-and-Graduating-From-High-School.pdf

A 2011 study, summarizing the life academic and economic outcomes of students in smaller classes in the STAR study compared to their peers who had normal class sizes, found that “The effects of class quality fade out on test scores in later grades but gains in non-cognitive measures persist.” Put in plain English, high stakes test scores are not an accurate predictor of future student performance. However, student engagement from small class sizes is predictive of future success as an adult.

Here are just some of the adult outcomes for these students 20 years later of being in a smaller class in elementary school: Students were significantly more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, start a savings account, buy a home, get married and stay married. Students were less likely to commit a crime or go to prison. Much of this information was obtained from federal tax returns of 95% of the nearly 12,000 students involved in the STAR study.
Source: Chetty, R., Friedman, J.N., Hilger, N., Saez, E., Schanzenbach, D.W., & Yagan D. (2011). How does your kindergarten classroom affect your earnings? Evidence from Project STAR. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126(4), 1593-1660.
http://obs.rc.fas.harvard.edu/chetty/STAR.pdf


In a separate analysis, Alan Krueger, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, estimated that every dollar invested in reducing class sizes yielded about $2 in long term economic benefits. https://etec511.wikispaces.com/file/view/economic+considerations+and+class+size.pdf

Smaller Classes Lead to More Successful Students
Wealthy private schools understand the importance of small class size. For example, at Lakeside Private School in Seattle, average class sizes are 16 students. If class sizes of 16 students is considered ideal for the children of the wealthy, small class sizes of 16 students should be available to all students in Washington state.


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Sadly, Washington has the Highest Class Sizes in the Nation
Unfortunately, according to the National Center for Education Statistics Schools and Staffing Survey (Table 8), Washington State has the third highest class sizes in the nation for elementary school, the second highest class sizes in the nation for middle school and the second highest class sizes in the nation for high school. http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass1112_2013314_t1s_007.asp

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This estimate of class sizes comes from a national survey of classroom teachers in which teachers are asked how many students are in their average classroom. This survey indicates that for Grades 1 through 6, the national average class size is 21 students and the average class size in Washington state is 24 students. For Grades 7 through 12, the national average class size is 27 students and the average class size in Washington state is 30 students.http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_209.30.asp

Here is a distribution of class sizes showing which states have low, average, above average or extremely high class sizes:

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However, even this survey of teachers under-reports the actual class sizes in the nation and in Washington state because it includes Special Education teachers who often have classes of under 10 students. Excluding Special Education classes, the typical or median class size in the US is likely close to 29 students and in Washington state, the typical or median class size is close to 32 students per teacher per class period.

Why Actual Class Sizes are Much Larger Than Student to Teacher Ratios
The most common mistake made when discussing class size is to confuse class sizes with Student to Teacher Ratios. The Student to Teacher Ratio is determined by dividing the total number of students in a school or a state by the total number of professional staff at the school or the state. For example, if you go to the Washington State OSPI website and click on Apportionment, then Publications, then Personnel Summary Reports, then select a year, then click on Table 46, you will get a report called “Ratio of Students to Classrooms.” This is actually the Student to Teacher Ratio. For the 2014 school year, this ratio was 18.2 students per teacher. http://k12.wa.us/safs/PUB/PER/1415/tbl46.pdf


This type of statistic might mislead one into believing that the class sizes in Washington state are only 18 students – which would mean Washington state has the lowest class sizes in the nation and in the world. Yet if you walk into any real classroom at any real school in Washington state and count the actual students, you will see about 30 students in the real classroom. Many classrooms have 35 to even 40 students!

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The OSPI state report card is also misleading. It indicates that Washington state has 1,075,107 students and 60,543 Classroom Teachers. This would lead one to believe that the average class size is 18 students in our state. Why is there such a huge difference between the Student to Teacher ratio reported by OSPI and the number of students in real classrooms? The problem is that OSPI uses an extremely broad definition for classroom teacher. Many so-called classroom teachers are actually administrators. We need administrators. But we should not be misleading parents and voters by calling them teachers. Using Student to Teacher ratios misleads the public and even legislators into thinking that class sizes are not that bad when the truth is that class sizes in Washington state are among the highest in the nation.

In fact, using a real average class size of 30 students, the actual number of classroom teachers we have is about 36,000. This means that OSPI is mis-reporting 24,000 administrators as teachers. This also means that at 10,000 additional teachers per billion dollars, it would take about $3.6 billion dollars per year to cut class sizes in half here in Washington state. This does not include the cost of support staff or building the actual schools. Nor does it include raising the pay of teachers here in Washington state to the West Coast average or eliminating the use of local levy funds for basic education. My plan to cut class sizes in half therefore includes one billion dollars for replacing levy funds, one billion for increasing teacher pay, four billion for building hundreds of new schools every year, and four billion for hiring 36,000 new teachers and 4,000 additional support staff. The total needed to cut class sizes in half is about $12 billion in additional revenue per year.

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Where can we get $12 billion per year needed to cut class sizes in Washington state in half?
Given the fact that poor and middle class families in Washington state are already paying the highest state taxes in the nation, a more accurate question is where are the money went that should have gone to our public schools? It turns out that there is no need to increase taxes at all. What we really need to do is decrease tax breaks for the wealthy. It will be impossible to lower class sizes for struggling students until we first recognize and better understand how Washington legislators real Paramount Duty has not been our public schools but rather giving away more than $36 billion in tax breaks to wealthy multinational corporations (who pay for their re-elections). Here is a graph of the increase in the number of state tax breaks since 1996:

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Here is a graph of the increase in the dollar amount of the tax breaks in billions of dollars compared to total state revenue and spending for public schools:

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Understanding the Deceptive Nature of the Washington Department of Revenue Tax Break Reports
The Washington legislature has not only approved the largest tax breaks in the US, they have approved the largest most unsustainable tax breaks in the history of the world. This is why we now have such a broken tax system.

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Since tax breaks for the wealthy are what prevent us from fully funding schools, any parent or teacher who wants to understand why Washington has the highest class sizes in the nation must take time to understand how the public is being deceived about the amount of these state tax breaks. This subject is complex. So try to be patient, take your time and read slowly.

Every four years since 1984, the Washington State Department of Revenue is required by law to release a Tax Exemption Report. Here is a quote from RCW 43.06.400 authorizing this report: "Beginning in January 1984, and in January of every fourth year thereafter, the department of revenue must submit to the legislature prior to the regular session a listing of the amount of reduction for the current and next biennium in the revenues of the state or the revenues of local government collected by the state as a result of tax exemptions. The listing must include an estimate of the revenue lost from the tax exemption, the purpose of the tax exemption, the persons, organizations, or parts of the population which benefit from the tax exemption, and whether or not the tax exemption conflicts with another state program."

It should be obvious that giving away tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks every year conflicts with the Paramount Duty of the legislature to fully fund our public schools. Every billion dollars of tax exemptions means 10,000 more teachers losing their jobs and thousands of kids forced to endure higher class sizes. This fact is not mentioned on any of the tax break reports.

In January 2016, Vikki Smith, the current Director of the Washington State Department of Revenue released the 2016 Tax Exemption Report, which she called the 2016 Tax Exemption Study. I have spent more than 8 years researching and writing analysis of the previous four versions of this report and I will briefly summarize my findings here You can download a PDF file of this 910 page study at the following link:
http://dor.wa.gov/docs/reports/2016/Tax_Exemption_Study_2016/2016_Tax_Exemption_Study_Entire_Report.pdf

The Department of Revenue currently collects about $20 billion per year in taxes but also exempts at least $30 billion per year in state taxes. The DOR Tax Exemption Study attempts to describe the $30 billion per year in lost state revenue. These $30 billion in lost state revenue are "justified" by corrupt state legislators with the false claim that they "create jobs." In fact, history shows that in nearly every case, tax exemptions to wealthy multinational corporations like Microsoft and Boeing do not create jobs. For example, after receiving billions in tax breaks, Boeing has laid off thousands of workers and used their tax breaks to build a non-union airplane manufacturing plant in South Carolina - firing thousands of Washington workers. Microsoft used their tax breaks to build sweat shops in China - also firing thousands of Washington workers.

However, as was true of the 2012 Report, authored by the former director of the Department of Revenue, Suzan Delbene, the 2016 report has several glaring omissions:

First, the 2016 study does not include the 1997 tax break on commercial intangible property. Since this is one of the largest of all the tax breaks accounting for several billion dollars in lost revenue with these benefits going almost entirely to three of the the richest people in the world, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Paul Allen, one has to question the validity of the rest of the 2016 Tax Exemption Study.

Second, this report does not mention the billion dollar per year Microsoft Business and Occupation tax break. Microsoft achieves this tax break by claiming that they are located in Nevada - when everyone including the Washington State Department of Revenue knows they are located in Redmond Washington.

Third, this report does not fully analyze revenue lost by manipulating the Business and Occupational categories that alway some businesses to pay these taxes at an extremely low rate while other businesses pay these taxes at an extremely high rate. It simply assumes the previous manipulated B & O rate was somehow fair or accurate. A more consistent way to evaluate any tax would be against a set standards such as a one percent B & O tax.

Fourth, this report low balls the amount of revenue lost through tax breaks by falsely claims that repealing all 694 tax breaks (now up to more than 700 thanks to the 2016 legislature) would only generate about $30 billion. This claim is based on another blatantly false assumption that repealing the 1931 intangible property tax break on personal property would not generate more revenue but merely shift the burden of total property taxes away from some tax payers and to other tax payers. Here is a quote from Section 1, page 3 of the study: "Repealing a property tax exemption does not increase state revenues. Removing a property tax exemption broadens the tax base, and at the same time reduces the tax rates. This reduces the property taxes for existing taxpayers, and shifts property tax to currently exempt taxpayers."

In fact, our state constitution has a one percent tax rate on all property. If you own a $200,000 home, one percent of that is $2,000 in property taxes. But if the value of your home doubles to $400,000, then one percent of that is $4,000. The state revenue is directly related to the value of property. So if the value of property doubles, the tax burden is not merely shifted from one tax payer to another - the total state and local taxes available doubles. How Vikki gets away with such an absurd statement is because local levy rates are set by the total amount of the levy and if the total amount did not raise then the burden would just shift from one property owner to another. What Vikki is ignoring is that the total levy is almost always limited by the one percent limit rule in our state constitution. Doubling the amount of property would double the revenue available for funding public schools.

Vikki next mistakenly assumes that the value of intangible property is only $2 trillion. Intangible personal property is discussed on page 17-458 of the 2016 tax exemption report. On page 459, Vikki states that her assumption is that the value of personal intangible property exempted is $1,907 billion or about $2 trillion or about the same as the value of tangible property in Washington state. The ratio of tangible to intangible property was 50-50 in the 1990s. But there has been a dramatic rise in the value of intangible property to the point where by 2010, intangible property accounted for about two thirds of all property. In other words, since we know that tangible property in our state


What is Intangible Property?
Tangible property is property you can touch –such as homes and commercial buildings. Intangible property includes all other forms of wealth – such as stocks, bonds and computer programs. Historically, intangible property accounted for a very small percent of all property. However, with the concentration of wealth in the hands of the very rich, intangible property now account for over 70% of all property. Over 90% of intangible wealth is owned by the top one percent of our richest citizens.

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Due to a rapid rise in the concentration of wealth in the hands of the richest one percent, and with nearly all of this wealth being in the form of intangible property, the amount of lost revenue due to this tax exemption has skyrocketed since 1997 to the point where it is now causing a loss of state funding of more than $4 billion per year.

It is no mere coincidence that our State has been short changing our public schools by billions of dollars a year ever since. As a direct result of this massive and unwise State tax give away, as well as the federal tax cuts since then, the wealth of the richest one percent of our population has DOUBLED in the past 20 years from 20% of our total wealth to 40% of our total wealth. This single exemption was responsible for $7 billion in state tax breaks per biennium or $3.5 billion in state tax breaks per year in 2008. This makes this single tax break much larger than any other tax break. The law allowing for this tax break is RCW 84.36.070. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=84.36.070

This massive 1997 tax loop hole has given billions of dollars in tax breaks to our richest citizens every year during the past 18 years by exempting over one trillion dollars of “intangible property” from our State property tax. It is the single largest tax break in the history of our state and bigger than the Billion Dollar Per Year Boeing Tax Break and the Billion Dollar Per Year Microsoft Tax Break combined!

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A Billion Dollar Shift in Property Tax Burden from Investors to Homeowners
One mechanism that led to this loss of state revenue was that wealthyinvestors suddenly had a huge financial incentive to mis-classify their commercial tangible property as intangible property. This is what many investors did – causing a huge shift in property tax burden from investors to homeowners. Here is a graph of this shift:


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Source: Washington State Department of Revenue http://dor.wa.gov/docs/reports/wa_tax_system_11_17_2004.pdf

The property tax burden on middle class homeowners has skyrocketed in the past 14 years as the ratio of commercial to residential tangible property has shifted from about 50-50 in 1997 to 66% residential to 33% commercial by 2006. When $100 billion dollars of commercial property is exempted from property taxes, residential property taxes must go up even if State and local spending remains the same.

As a consequence of these tax break for millionaires, and tax shifts to our middle class, our middle class now pay much more than the national average in State taxes while millionaires in our State pay much less than the national average. Working families see their tax bills go through the roof and they naturally assume that State spending is “Out of control.” But what is really out of control is tax breaks for billionaires.

We Can Cut Class Sizes in Half Just by Rolling Back Tax Breaks to 1996
In 1996, we had 400 tax breaks costing $20 billion. We now have more than 700 tax breaks for the rich costing our schools $36 billion. This includes the 1997 Intangible Property tax break that is so unfair and so costly that the Department of Revenue and the state legislature do not even want you to know about. It also includes most of the Boeing tax breaks and the Microsoft tax break.

So the question is what is more important? Helping Bill Gates and Paul Allen buy another private jet? Or helping one million students in Washington state get the education they need and deserve to succeed in school and succeed in life? If I am elected, I will file a motion for summary judgment immediately to declare every tax break passed since 1996 to be illegal, null and void and that the resulting $16 billion per year in additional state revenue be put in an account controlled by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. We could have full school funding restored in as little as 6 months.

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You now know why class sizes in our state are the highest in the nation. The fact is I am the only candidate even talking about the real cause of our massive class sizes. All of the other candidates like to talk about their "great relationships" with the very bandits who are robbing our schools of funding and our kids of their future. They perpetuate the myth that some how the legislature will suddenly come clean and start funding our schools "next year." But all that will come out of Olympia next year is the same thing that came out of Olympia this year and last year and the year before that - more excuses and more lies. Did you know that 4 years after the Supreme Court McCleary ruling, we have 30,000 more kids - but 1,000 fewer teachers? All we got since McCleary was another fake committee and another hundred tax breaks for the rich!

This is why we need completely new leadership, more honest leadership, in Olympia. This is exactly what I will provide - real solutions - not merely marketing slogans. I therefore hope you will share this important article with every teacher and parent you know. Together, we can win this election and give our kids the education they deserve.

As always, feel free to email me with your questions and comments.

Regards,
David Spring M. Ed.
David (at) springforbetterschools (dot) org