The state’s incoming superintendent of public instruction says Washington lawmakers are about to get a wake-up call about what it means to do their work during an economic downturn.
Randy Dorn predicts the Legislature will be forced to think about raising taxes to meet the needs of the state, especially because he says cutting one of Washington’s biggest dollar commitments — education — should not be on the table.
As a former state lawmaker, the new school chief knows few things may be sacred during a major economic downturn.
And he plays the “paramount duty card:”
“It’ll be a real choice of — what are the priorities. And to me there isn’t a choice on what is a priority. The priority’s already been determined by our constitution. That’s the paramount duty. They take an oath of office. It’s pretty simple to me,” Dorn said.
Look, we all know it’s going to be an insanely tough session. Nobody wants to see health care pitted against education, or corrections and law enforcement. Or whatever.
But the broader public is going to need to understand that their neighborhood schools are going to be affected, possibly in significant ways. I’m not so certain that is sinking in around the state.
Education is a point of contact with the state for many folks who otherwise have little interaction with it, other than routine trips to license vehicles and such. Frankly a lot of parents may not understand exactly how education is funded in this state or what could happen with drastic cuts.
Dorn is right to start making noise. It’s probably unrealistic to hope that no cuts will happen, but parents and students involved in both K-12 and higher education better start making plans right now to fight like hell.
Yeah, I know. Gov. Chris Gregoire made a promise not to seek tax increases. Well, a hell of a lot has happened just in the last four weeks, and a hell of a lot is likely to happen in the next four weeks. From a macro-economic standpoint a tax increase is about the last thing that should happen, but then again, the consequences of major damages to education are also severe.
Our stupid, regressive tax system has us boxed in big time.