WASL math: education is all about the money

Article IX, Section 1 of the Washington State Constitution is pretty damn clear:

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.

“Ample” is not synonymous with “adequate” — it means “more than adequate,” “abundant,” “liberal” or “copious.” And a “paramount duty” is one that is “chief in importance or impact”… “above others,” and “superior in power or jurisdiction.”

Attorneys might semantically nitpick over the subjective meanings of these words, but us normal folks understand that when our per-student education funding ranks amongst the lowest in the nation, our state can’t possibly be living up to the spirit of Article IX, Section 1.

A suit was filed last week challenging the state’s inadequate funding of K-12 education, and I agree with the Seattle P-I editorial board’s assessment:

While it is regrettable that public dollars will need to be spent on lawyers, experts and depositions, it is more important that words in our state constitution have real meaning. The state can’t win this suit. One way to limit legal expenses would be to negotiate a settlement that honors the words and intentions of the state’s founders.

But it is not enough for our state’s editorialists to simply join the civic-minded chorus demanding more education funding. It is time they start laying the groundwork for the type of tax restructuring necessary to assure that the state has the resources to live up to its paramount duty.

Gov. Christine Gregoire’s new budget already provides several hundred million dollars more for education. But even though this is still at least a billion dollars a year short of the mark, her spending “increase” has already generated faux outrage by those who either refuse to, or are incapable of understanding the true nature of our state’s long term structural budget deficit. It’s not state spending that is out of whack — it continues to steadily decline as a percentage of the overall state economy. The problem rather, is the antiquated, early 20th Century hack of a tax system that simply cannot grow revenues at a pace sufficient to keep up with the demands of our post-industrial service economy.

Both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature are controlled by Democrats. Does anybody really believe that the Democrats wouldn’t spend amply on such a popular item as K-12 education if they had the money to do so? For all the recriminations we continue to focus on the wrong end of the problem, and the Democratic leadership is just as guilty as the obstructionists across the aisle.

We need to start having a grown-up, mature and informative debate about tax restructuring. We need to be willing to broach the idea of an income tax without fear of political retribution.

But we’re never going to get that debate unless our state’s editorial pages start leading the way.

Comments

  1. 1

    Richard Pope spews:

    “Both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature are controlled by Democrats. Does anybody really believe that the Democrats wouldn’t spend amply on such a popular item as K-12 education if they had the money to do so?”

    But what do the Democrats do with the tax revenue that we DO HAVE?

    “our per-student education funding ranks amongst the lowest in the nation”

    Do Washington taxes also rank “amongst the lowest in the nation”?

    Certainly not.

    So it is a matter that the Governor and Legislature have been neglecting education and spending the money on other things.

    Rather than funding education first, and possible asking for higher taxes to fund other things — they instead fund other things quite generous and education poorly. And then ask for higher taxes in order to adequately fund education!

    Only when a lawsuit is threatened do they take a few hundred million away from pork-barrel projects to increase education funding.

  2. 3

    David Wright spews:

    Ample-ness is not determined by a comparitive ranking. It is determined by comparison to an objective standard. For example, my daily calorie supply is “ample” not because it is significantly larger than other people’s, but because it is significantly larger than my body’s objectively measurable calorie needs.

    If you can enunciate a clear standard of education that a court would deem universially evident, and can show that Washington’s public education is not ample with respect to this standard, then you have a chance to make this case.

    Otherwise, the court will, based on the principle of legislative defference, leave it up to the legislature to define “ample” (as they did with “emergency”). But I suspect you already know that these cases are about political theater, not real legal arguments.

  3. 5

    Libertarian spews:

    I think a lot of people settled here precisely because the state DOESN’T have an income tax. I’d like to keep it that way. I don’t want another government prying into my financial affairs, thank you very much. The IRS is bad enough!

  4. 6

    Richard Pope spews:

    Is there any objective source that compares, by state (1) total state and local government tax revenues with (2) total state and local expenditures on education?

    I would be curious to see how Washington ACTUALLY ranks nationwide in the percentage of total state and local government tax revenues that are spent on education.

    Otherwise, the proposition that “Washington’s per-student education funding ranks amongst the lowest in the nation” could be as much of a myth as the proposition that “Washington’s state and local taxes rank amongst the highest in the nation”.

  5. 7

    ArtFart spews:

    I’d sure rather see my tax dollars go toward funding education than poured into Mayor Greg’s damned hole in the ground.

    Maybe the Gov wants to know what we all think about that.

  6. 8

    Larry the U spews:

    1. Hey Richard Pope. Fuck you. We have plenty of federal money for a war of choice, no bid contracts to war profiteering contractors, and to give our federal resources to oil companies for a song, but not enough for schools? And the answer is not to give more to schools but to look at ways to curtail other services first? Fuck you and all those conservatives who spread the meme to the electorate that we can have a free lunch, that all we need to do is refine the process and cut the dead weight. Some times especially quality things, things cost real money, money that has not currently been budgeted for and that means taxes. Isn’t that the rationale for the ridiculous increases in CEO pay, that they are the best of the best, and so their services are worth it? How about we apply that thinking to the school system, and maybe we could attract dedicated, smart, driven, committed people to teach our kids, and house them in modern facilities with “ample” equipment and supplies. Oh, and fuck all the people that say the mechanism for this is vouchers or charter schools, because neither of those ideas works and, even when available, are under utilized by the zealots that made such an issue out of it. Oh, and fuck Timmy the watch salesman why you’re at it, as he’s at least part of the reason for the budget shortfall. “So it is a matter that the Governor and Legislature have been neglecting education and spending the money on other things.” Fuck you for postulating this in your first post with no back up or justification, placing blame before you even discuss the issues and the data. How about the years of R control of the legislature? “Critical” infrastructure needs? Finally, fuck your aristocratic, class dividing Marie Antoinette “let them eat cake” attitude towards the school funding. Kids can’t help that their parents can’t afford private schools, or are working too hard making a living to be more involved or just don’t understand the importance. A decent education should be every child’s right in the USA. It’s more important than terrorism, war, the deficit, health care, traffic, pollution, pretty much any hot topic you can name, in my book. And frankly, I think that anyone who doesn’t START with that attitude is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  7. 9

    righton spews:

    goldy .. i’m just thrilled you want to rely on the constitution.

    waiting then for Patty Porkbarrel to stop pissing away federal money on things better “reserved to the states”

    next week we can riff on 2nd amend, few other things libs love to ignore

  8. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    School districts have sued the state before for more school funding, and we have state Supreme Court decisions interpreting the constitional provisions and statutes. The legal arguments have NOT revolved around semantical terms. What the courts have said is the judicial branch does not have power to require the Legislature to appropriate funds.

    While some lawyers may nitpick with this interpretation, I think the constitutional provision you quoted is effectively rendered hortatory and unenforceable by the separation of powers issue.

    As you point out, Goldy, the long-term solution to education underfunding will require overhauling our antiquated, patchwork, Rube Goldberg tax system. This tax system was not rationally designed but “happened” over the course of a century. It places the greatest tax burden on those least able to pay, and gives those with money and political power the most incentive to resist change. What it will take to break this deadlock I can’t say, but it must be done, and I believe Governor Gregoire has a better chance of getting the job done than any other governor of the last century.

    I knew the governor probably wouldn’t tackle this emotionally charged issue during her first term, and that we’d likely have to wait for stronger Democratic majorities and a second term to get her to even talk about it. That’s probably still the case. But if there is to be any conversation at all, it needs to start here, at the grass roots, and momentum for reform needs to build to a certain level before Gregoire, Chopp, or anyone else can be expected to venture anywhere near the “third rail” of Washington politics.

  9. 11

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 Can you provide specifics, Richard? What would you cut — Child Protective Services? Money for the rising costs of caring for indigent elderly in nursing homes? Prisons and law enforcement? Be specific, Richard. Tell us where there’s fat in general fund spending.*

    * By this phraseology, I intend to exclude agencies and programs that are self-supporting through user fees or dedicated taxes, such as the Gambling Commission, Horse Racing Commission, etc.

  10. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I worked for the state for 30 years, and I would not go back today. It just doesn’t pay enough for how much work you have to do, how hard the work is, and what you have to put up with from managements and the public. It’s not worth it.

  11. 14

    Libertarian spews:

    Roger at 13,

    I feel the same way about the Air Force. I wouldn’t go back now, not with this mess Iraqi going on.

  12. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @5 Prying into your financial affairs? Give me a fucking break! I don’t recall seeing your posts about the Bush administration’s mass reading of e-mails, U.S. mail, library records, bank records, medical records, etc. Yes, I know Tony Snow claimed last week they’re only looking at “a few hundred” banking records of “terrorism suspects” but I don’t believe him — do you? Since this administration has lied about everything else, including not conducting warrantless wiretapping when in fact they were conducting millions of warrantless wiretaps, why should anyone believe them this time?

    Moreover, filing a state income tax return involves no “prying into financial affairs.” Under the standard methodology, you simply left your AGI off your federal 1040, insert it on one line of the state form, subtract the state standard deduction, multiply by the tax rate, and you’re there. You’re not sharing any financial information with the state bureaucrats that you’re not already giving to Bush’s thugs.

    You’ll have to find a better red herring than this one, Lib. It doesn’t ring true. It doesn’t have the feel of authenticity. It’s as transparent as glass. Why don’t you be honest and just admit that (a) you’re afraid of a tax increase, and/or (b) you don’t want to pay your fair share and like the current system that puts the burden on those least able to pay.

  13. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 That’s a reasonable question, Richard. I can’t provide such a source. I do know Washington’s overall state and local spending is in the middle of all states.

    In any such comparison, you must be careful that you’re comparing apples to apples, because Washington counts school spending as part of its state budget, whereas most or all other states do not. School taxes usually are collected locally and are not run through the state budget accounting, as in Washington. Because K-12 education accounts for about 42% of the state budget, our actual state government spending is only 58% of what it appears to be. The 58% includes higher education, which is another 6% — total education is about 48% of state spending. This figures could be off by plus or minus 2% or 3%.

  14. 19

    Libertarian spews:

    Roger, I’m paying enough, pardner, and I am totally against a state income tax. If you want to pay, send the Department of Reveunue a check. I’m sure they’ll cash it and keep the money.

    The fact that the feds are too intrusive into our lives is NOT an excuse for the state to do the same.

  15. 20

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @9 A righty complaining about congressinal pork spending? Aw c’mon, you’re not serious, this is a wingnut joke, right?

  16. 22

    Richard Pope spews:

    Roger Rabbit @ 17

    That is why it is important to compare the total of state and local taxes of all sorts, with the total of state and local spending of all sorts on education.

  17. 23

    Wally the talking Badger spews:

    Libertarians are anarchists who want the police to protect them from their enemies.

  18. 24

    uptown spews:

    We pay state taxes in Washington?!? Having lived in CA and IL, I hadn’t noticed any particular burden that the state puts on us. Also, how come high tax states seem to have the best economies?

    A few people seem scared of income tax, but with the right constitutional controls in place and a cut in other state taxes the majority would go along.

  19. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 Sorry, Lib, I don’t see where the “intrusion” is in a state income tax. Having helped a relative living in another state fill out state income tax forms, I have to say that I think you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    As for the tax burden you bear, none of us likes taxes, and there’s certainly a feeling of being nickel-and-dimed by 100 different taxing entities, none of whom give any consideration to how much you’re paying to the other 99 when deciding how much of your money they want to spend. I feel your pain, too. But when you look at the overall combined state/local taxes, all of the states are quite close together, and Washington’s state and municipal spending is comparable to elsewhere. And the fact no deep cuts have been made anywhere, despite all the bitching about taxes, tells me these services really are necessary to our society’s functioning. What it boils down to is that complaining is great sport, but it’s just that — sport. We’re not really willing to do without the schools, roads, cops and firefighters, prisons, and other things our taxes buy.

    If your personal state/local tax burden seems unduly onerous, perhaps it’s because the share of tax burden you’re personally bearing is out of sync with your income and resources. That’s essentially true of at least half our state’s population. So, if you don’t have a large income, the state/local tax burden probably feels high — because it is. You’re getting fleeced by the high-income households who aren’t carrying their share of the freight, my friend. THAT is something we CAN do something about — if we have the political will.

  20. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @21 The 48% figure includes K-12, state colleges and universities, community colleges, and voc-tech schools.

  21. 27

    Libertarian spews:

    Wally the talking Badger,

    Libertarians are Democrats who believe in individual responsibility. Libertarians are Republicans who believe in individual rights.

  22. 28

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @21 No, it’s not really “high” compared to other states. If you looked at what their total public education spending is at all levels of state/local/school district government, you’ll probably find similar numbers. There’s no question that education is by far the biggest expense of state and local government. That’s true everywhere.

  23. 29

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Lib, you may feel you’re paying high taxes, but Washington’s property taxes are lower than some other places. New York, Connecticut, and the Northeast not only have astronomical housing prices, but also astronomical property taxes. In the midwestern states I’m somewhat familiar with, a home comparable to say a $500,000 house in Seattle may be worth $350,000 but the property taxes are twice as much. And that’s on top of a state sales tax and a state income tax and all the usual excise taxes, albeit their sales tax rates are lower than ours. Washington is a tax haven for higher income households because, while our overall state/local spending is on a par with other states, a greater proportion of that is borne by households in the lower half of the income spectrum. So, our taxes feel high (and are high) to those making less money, but this state is a tax haven for high earners.

  24. 31

    Wally the talking Badger spews:

    re 27: Are Libertarians in favor of being individually responsible for paying their fair share of taxes? Since a corporation is a legal “person” do you consider that they should be held individually responsible for their depradations? Is it taking individual responsibility when corporate officers claim they are not personally responsible for what the corporation does when they are the actual persons who are responsible.

    Is a child born of an addict mother personally responsible for their addiction.

    Seems to me “personal responsibility” is something you view more as a get out of jail free card.

  25. 32

    rhp6033 spews:

    Most economists agree that the most stable form of government funding (one which does not turn state finances into a roller-coaster ride with each economic cycle) involves what they call the “three-legged stool” of support: sales (consumption) taxes, property taxes, and income taxes.

    But the federal government relies primarily upon only the income tax. State governments usually rely upon either the sales tax or the income tax, but only a few use both.

    The problem states encounter is that there are winners and losers in both systems. A retiree usually does best under an income tax, because his income is limited to investment/pension earnings. Wealthy people usually do best under a sales tax, because their unspent income is untaxed, and their investments can continue to accumulate without any state taxes upon that income.

    But I would caution those who think that an income tax would result in a huge windfall from the state’s wealthiest residents (Gates, Allen, Bezos, etc.). It’s not likely to happen. They don’t get very big salaries, most of their wealth is in stock equity. That won’t translate into “reportable income” until they sell some of the stock, which they will do in small increments. And residency is a rather fluid concept these days, they are wealthy enough to pick any state they want as their residence, for tax purposes, and they travel enough anyway it can probably hold up to challenge.

    Using Gates as an example, any reportable tax on capital gains can be avoided entirely by donating the stock to his charitable foundation, which will sell the stock without having to pay any capital gains taxes. Gates even gets to take a charitable deduction against his federal income taxes for the stepped-up value (current market value) of the deduction, without having to pay taxes on that appreciation. That deduction can offset up to 50% of his reportable income from salary or stock sales.

    And if the Republicans had their way, then any such income would be completely tax free (by eliminating capital gains and estate taxes), leaving only the wage-earners to fund the government in its entirity.

  26. 33

    whl spews:

    So a funny thing happened on the way to education funding. The “state” sends a per capita sum to every district, $5,339 per full-time equivalent student (on average with variations per district).

    Some do well with that sum, some don’t. The statewide average spent per student is $6,985 or an average of $1,646 per student of local dollars added to the per capita.

    The wingnutz, Joe 5-pack (cheap bastard won’t buy a sixer), JanieJoJuneBug, the corporocrats & the feeelthy rich don’t want to pay property taxes: so they hold them down, reduce them, shift them, grant exemptions. And some districts come up short. So they sue the “state.”

    Hey wait!!!!! We, you, I, us, them IS the “state.”

    This is ludicrous. Some districts can’t get along with their sum. But they have reduced & restricted their local taxes, beat the shit out of their teachers in salary negotiations, failed to bond & levy to build & maintain the school facilities, pissed away money on administrators & non-certs, and then . . . and then . . . whine to the “state” for more money in their SUM.

    On average, the “state” funds over 70 percent of Washington education costs–probably the highest in the USA. So let’s go back to that well, hunh, and suck it dry. What a concept.

    Fuck ‘em. Pay the Piper or live with the ratz.

  27. 34

    Richard Pope spews:

    WHL @ 33

    The practical ability of school districts to raise that “average” of $1,646 in local dollars varies widely.

    Seattle and Bellevue, for example, spend a lot more than $1,646 per student in local dollars. But Seattle and Bellevue have a helluva lot of taxable real property, especially on a per student basis.

    Some rural districts have only 10% or 20% as much taxable real property per student as Seattle and Bellevue. They would have to have local school property taxes five or ten times as high to raise the same amount of money per student as Seattle or Bellevue. So they end up far below the $1,646 per student average — maybe they can only go twice or three times as much in the local school tax rate as a practical matter.

    How much (if any) of Gregoire’s proposed several hundred million dollars in new education spending is going to help resolve the disparity in local levy raising abilities?

  28. 35

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @9 Perhaps you could explicate for us your constitutional theory as regards what is “reserved to the states”?

    Concerning the 2nd amendment, last time I checked, no one was confiscating your guns or even requiring you to register them or get a license to possess them; has that changed since last week?

  29. 36

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Guns are one of the very few things you can own and operate in this country without a license and without paying any fees.

  30. 37

    skagit spews:

    Faux headling – thought this would be about education but it is a rehash of your desired income tax.

    Will vote for an income tax only when single payors with dual incomes are not burdensomely taxed and no loopholes.

    Also, our post-industrial service economy.

    You mean all the service jobs at Sears, McDonalds, and Walmart?

  31. 38

    skagit spews:

    Roger @ 10: It may be a patchwork of taxes but the money is real. I agree somewhat with Pope in that I, too, would like a better accounting of the money. Said it before . . . everybody’s property taxes have skyrocketed over the last fifteen years. Where the hell is it? I know it doesn’t go to education necessarily but it must be somewhere . . .

  32. 39

    Facts Support My Positions spews:

    Better idea. Tax wealth and not work. We all pay the same rate, based on our assets, not our income.

    Bingo. All taxes then become “fair”. Remember you have to have money to make money. Let the folks with assets who can make money far more easily pay taxes on those assets.

    Flat rate taxation. As progressive as possible. The only other taxes would be on products that make us sick like alcohol, tobacco. Use that tax to pay for the people hit by drunk drivers, and getting lung cancer, and other diseases.

    I would also like to then see a tax on food. Why should someone healthy pay to give health care to a 500 pounder that eats nothing but crap. Tax the crap, and use the tax collected for their diabetes drugs….

  33. 40

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @32 “State governments usually rely upon either the sales tax or the income tax, but only a few use both.”

    This is not accurate. There is 1 state with neither an income or sales tax (Alaska), 6 states with a sales tax but no income tax (Florida, Nevada, S. Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming), and 5 states with an income tax but no sales tax (Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon). That leaves 38 states with both types of taxes.

  34. 41

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @32 “But I would caution those who think that an income tax would result in a huge windfall from the state’s wealthiest residents (Gates, Allen, Bezos, etc.). It’s not likely to happen.”

    The state income taxes being discussed in Washington are “revenue neutral,” so there would be no “windfall” at all (in terms of increasing state revenue). Nor do I think anyone is looking at a handful of ultra-wealthy taxpayers as a new revenue source. What the income tax discussion really involves is reallocating a portion of the tax burden from small businesses and low income households to affluent households. The target group is the top 20% of households, not the top 6 individuals.

    The Gates Commission study revealed that Washington’s small businesses pay 41% of the total state and municipal tax load, compared to an average of 30% for other western states; and that the lowest 1/5th of households pay 17% of their income to state and local governments, while the top 1/5th pay only 4%.

    The state’s two largest businesses, Boeing and Microsoft, have the political cloud to effectively practice tax avoidance, and in Boeing’s case to get outright subsidies, but this is more than income tax proponents want to tackle and no one is thinking about taking a serious run at the big corporations doing business in our state. One obvious reason being no one wants to give them an incentive to pull up stakes and move elsewhere. Tax reform, in the form of a state income tax, would involve shifting some of the burden from the 17% group to the 4% group (and between the intermediate groups), and giving small business relief by repealing the B & O tax, which is especially hard on sole proprietorships and startups.

  35. 42

    rhp6033 spews:

    While we are ostensibly on the subject of education, perhaps we should consider Ron Judd’s column in Sunday’s Seattle Times. He laments the fact that residents to this area, particularly those who choose to live in Bellevue and Issaquah, don’t seem to know how to handle a little bit of snow. He which makes some proposals for additional WASL test questions which might help remedy the situation:

    “Abandoned-car crowd faces steep learning curve
    By Ron Judd
    Seattle Times staff columnist

    OK. We let it go the first time. And the second. But at this point, somebody’s gotta ask: What in the world is the matter with you people who live on hills outside Issaquah and Bellevue?

    Did you miss driver’s ed the day they talked about this new miracle invention called tire chains? Does something in the water up there on Yup Plateau render you incapable of learning a lesson from the first time you abandoned your $66,000 Beamer — parked all crooked, like O.J.’s Bronco the night of the crime — right in the middle of a major highway?

    Let the record reflect that one of you stood before a local news crew, on Jan. 10, and said with a straight face: “I thought this (winter stuff) was all behind us.”

    As a long-term solution, we propose a couple new questions for the WASL: Does winter on the Eastside run on a schedule different from the rest of the Northern Hemisphere? And what are those clinky things on the drive wheels of people blowing by me while I slither up the hill in my $600 Ferragamos?

    Short term: It’s time for DOT crews to stop pussyfooting around the day after the next Great Abandonment and starting clearing the shoulders with the only real tool for the job: a big ol’ bulldozer.”

    Source: http://archives.seattletimes.n.....=abandoned

  36. 43

    whl spews:

    http://www.washingtonea.org/in.....Itemid=186

    The WEA has pdf pages that show Washington as 42nd in per capita education funding, 46th in class size (almost the largest classes in the US), and ranks 46th in revenues per $1,000 of personal income.

    The third component is the ugliest. The people here in WA provide very nearly the lowest percentage of their incomes to the schools of any state in the union.

    Oh well, let’s sue somebody: I know, OURSELVES.

  37. 44

    rhp6033 spews:

    RR at 40: I will admit that it has been some time since I looked at the number of states with mixed systems, but I was surprised at your numbers. When did Tennessee adopt an income tax? For decades, proposing an income tax in that state was considered political suicide, if not grounds for a lynching.

    RR at 41: I agree that a state income tax proposal should be revenue neutral, I just wanted to caution those that think it will result in some kind of “sock-it-to-the-rich” windfall will be sorely dissapointed, on several grounds.

    And I agree that the B&O tax is terrible. You couldn’t have put together a worse business tax system if you tried. Industries big enough to have political clout get favorable tax treatment, while small businesses bear the major burden. Start-ups are hit particularly hard, when they find themselves paying taxes on gross income, without deductions for most business expenses.

    And the State Dept. of Revenue enforcement division seems to be pretty inconsistent in how the enforce the tax – some businesses go for years without being current, wheras some of the smaller/newer business get shut down remarkably fast as soon as they are in arrears.

  38. 45

    rhp6033 spews:

    Overheard in U.S. Bankruptcy Court one day (several years ago):

    Judge: Are there any creditors present?

    Wash. Dept. of Revenue Agent: Yes, your honor. Agent **** from the Dept. of Revenue, present.

    Judge: Do you have any objections to the (Chapt. 13) plan?

    DoR Agent: No, your honor. I’m just here to make sure the (debtor) understands that he has to pay these taxes, despite the bankruptcy filing.

    Judge: Do you understand that the Dept. of Revenue claim was listed as “disputed” in the initial filing, and the time period for you to object has passed?

    DoR Agent (looking confused): Well, your honor, regardless, this is a tax claim, and bankruptcy has no affect on it.

    Judge: I would suggest that you go have your supervisors consult with the Attorney General’s office regarding the affect of this (bankruptcy) filing upon your claim. And I would caution you against any further enforcement action in violation of the Automatic Stay until you have had a chance to consult with your attorneys. The (Chapt. 13) Plan is approved. Next case.

  39. 46

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @33 “On average, the “state” funds over 70 percent of Washington education costs–probably the highest in the USA.”

    I don’t agree with this characterization. No deep philosophical differences, and I’m not picking on you, but state/local finances are an arcane subject that’s easy to misunderstand if you don’t use a functional approach.

    In Washington, the “state” doesn’t really fund education — at least, not in any way that’s materially different from education funding elsewhere. What Washington does differently is have state agencies collect local school taxes and funnel school funding through the state budget on their way to local school districts. To the best of my knowledge, no other state does that. This is necessary to satisfy the state constitutional mandate that the “state” provide “ample” funding for schools. But the differnce is largely semantical, because school money here (as elsewhere) comes principally from local property taxes, and is spent by local school districts.

    I think it’s easier to comprehend both school financing and the state budget if you break education funding out of the state budget and treat it as school district taxation and spending. There are certain legal or operational contexts where you don’t want to do this, where you can’t ignore the state’s operational role in the collection and distribution of school monies, but for purposes of fiscal analysis you can ignore those factors and they only cloud the discussion and cause confusion.

    Viewed this way, Washington’s education funding is similar to what you see elsewhere. Schools are supported principally by homeowners, and school spending is largely controlled by local school districts and their boards, subject to state standards, requirements, and oversight that varies by state. When you crunch the numbers, Washington is in the top 50% on a straight per capita dollars-per-student basis, but in the bottom 50% on a percentage-of-personal-income-spent-on-education basis.

    Goldy has consistently used the latter measure to argue that we’re underfunding education. However, I’m not persuaded this is the appropriate measure to use. If you want to make a comparable analysis, I think per capita spending adjusted for local cost differences is more apples-to-apples. It isn’t logical that a state where per capita income averages $50,000 has to spend 6% of its personal income to give the same quality education to students as a state where per capital income averages $35,000 and school spending also is 6% of income (these are arbitrary figures for illustration purposes). This method contains a built in bias for spending more on better education if you can afford it. Pro-education folks might like this bias, but they shouldn’t pretend to be comparing apples to apples.

  40. 47

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @34 In some of the smaller rural counties, especially, a very large percentage of the land base is government owned and not taxed. In a few cases, federal “impact” money may help, but generally speaking these schools have the greatest need for subsidy by taxpayers outside the district.

  41. 48

    skagit spews:

    I agree with the proposal to tax wealth over labor . . . but don’t know how to make it happen. Ted Halstead talked a lot about that in a speech I saw him give on CSpan. Halstead’s article “Among the advanced industrial countries, we are either the very best or among the very worst. We have the best military, GDP, productivity, business start-ups, R&D, breadth of stock ownership, volunteerism, charitable giving. At the same time, we are among the worst in poverty, life expectancy, infant mortality, homicide, health-care coverage, teen pregnancy, energy efficiency, personal savings & obesity. So the slogan would mean (working toward) making America the best in all these categories, best in infant mortality as well as GDP.

    But like the Roman god Janus, America has two faces. Despite being the richest nation on the planet, we suffer from higher rates of poverty, infant mortality, homicide, and HIV infection, and from greater economic inequality, than other advanced democracies. We have far more uninsured citizens, and a lower life expectancy. On a per capita basis the United States emits considerably more greenhouse gases and produces more solid waste. We spend more per student on K-12 education than almost all other modern democracies, yet our students perform near the bottom on international tests. We have the highest rates of teen pregnancy and among the highest proportions of single parents, and American parents have the least amount of free time to spend with their children; indeed, the average American works nine weeks more each year than the average European. Our performance on many social indicators is so poor, in fact, that an outsider looking at these numbers alone might conclude that we were a developing nation.
    Halstead’s concluding message is simply that we compartmentalize our solutions and have lost the ability to be flexible and think in new paradigms.

    He’s right.

  42. 49

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @38 “everybody’s property taxes have skyrocketed over the last fifteen years.”

    Everybody’s income has gone up over the last 15 years, too. After factoring for inflation, have property taxes really “skyrocketed?” I think they’ve gone up, but only incrementally. Since 1992, my property taxes have increased about 225%, the value of my property has increased about 220%, and because I’m no longer working I can’t do a direct income comparison, but I would guess that after adjusting for salary inflation my property taxes have increased about 10% to 15% in real terms over that period.

  43. 50

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @39 That has its own set of problems, and like all other proposals, the devil is in the details. The bottom line is there is no way to get government services without paying for them, and the amount of money government has to spend to deliver what we demand from government will not be easy to pay, no matter how we pay it. The argument for tax reform is not to reduce the overall burden or make taxes easier to pay — it won’t — but to correct imbalances in the current system that distribute the tax burden regressively.

  44. 51

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I will not personally benefit from a state income tax, because I’m a saver, not a spender, so a higher than average portion of my income (compared to others in my income bracket) is untaxed by the current system.

  45. 52

    skagit spews:

    Regarding rural areas, some of them (such as the Blaine School District-Cherry Point oil refinery) make out very well with a tax base supported by corporations. Too bad we can’t get more corps to fund ed.

    Also, kindergarten in WA State is 28 kids unless the school budgets or finds a way to modify that number . . . among the highest in the nation. Many poor states do better in the area of education. Don’t know why . . .

  46. 53

    skagit spews:

    Everybody’s income has gone up over the last 15 years, too.

    That is absolutely not true. In fact, many wages have stalled or even if they’ve gained a bit, they have not kept up with inflation. Sorry, i can’t cite for you but have read it and heard stats over and over again.

    Taxes ’92 $692
    Taxes ’06 $4000

    Nobody I know got a raise like that.

  47. 54

    skagit spews:

    Those cited are property taxes. Perhaps lawyers for the State get big raises every year . . .

    I know City of Seattle workers do well in the Cola area. And they get adjustments pretty often. Some pretty well paid City employees in the clerical area.

    But generally, wages are not doing well and haven’t been for some time.

  48. 55

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @44 “When did Tennessee adopt an income tax?”

    1929. (See http://tinyurl.com/3cszd6 for gory details.*) If you need forms to file a return, click here: http://www.state.tn.us/revenue...../index.htm

    Tennessee taxes only interest and dividend income, so is often included in the list of no-income-tax states, but technically it does have an income tax. Also, materially, there is a very active debate going on in that state about enacting a broad income tax, so it’s possible even it’s qualified status as a “no-income tax” state will disappear in the near future.

    * When I say “gory details,” I’m not kidding — trust me on this.

  49. 56

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @45 Being somewhat familiar with the qualifications, selection, and hiring of DOR revenue agents, I’m not surprised. And these folks do NOT have access to Assistant Attorneys General for day-to-day legal advice — the AG only provides legal counseling to top management, and only represents the department in litigation; the folks working in cubicles are far removed from all of this. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find line-level workers in any state agency who know a fucking thing about how bankruptcy laws impact their agency’s operations.

  50. 57

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @53 Property taxes and values vary individually. I started out at $1400 in ’90 and paid $3400 in ’06.

  51. 59

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @54 “skagit says: Perhaps lawyers for the State get big raises every year . . .”

    Bwa ha ha ha … good one! Maybe in Grimm’s tales.

  52. 61

    ArtFart spews:

    It does occur to me to wonder how many of the nouveau riche (and the not-so-nouveau, for that matter) extol Tim Eyman’s virtues and bitch about their property taxes while spending ten grand a year to put a kid in private school.

  53. 62

    ArtFart spews:

    13 Hey, Roger…so I take it that there’s one thing that hasn’t changed in 30 years since I worked for the gubmint!

  54. 64

    GS spews:

    The State government is too busy accepting $16,000 raises, and skyrocketing tunnel stupidity to worry about such things as funding education.

  55. 65

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @64 How many of the state’s 100,000 workers got $16,000 raises? Politicians and agency heads don’t count — most of us don’t get to be governor or DSHS secretary. I’m talking about the people who do the work — how many of THEM got $16,000 raises, you lying piece of shit?

  56. 66

    righton spews:

    uh, roger the fake attorney @ 35

    try 10th amendment.

    and commerce clause hardly was intended to help statues get placed along the waterfront

  57. 67

    rhp6033 spews:

    Righton at 66: Why don’t you do some research into the 10th amendment, and let me know how many federal laws or expenditures have been overturned under its provisions? Then check, by comparison, the cases under the Commerce Clause. It’s been seven decades since the Schecter Poultry (sp?) decision, and the commerce clause has been given a broad interpretation to support Congressional action, by justices who were appointed by both Democratic and Republican Presidents. In contrast, the 10th Amendment has had little impact, especially since the later enactment of the 14th Amendment (which expressly limited state power in certain areas).

  58. 68

    John Barelli spews:

    Way back at post 6, (sorry to come in so late, but I still have to work for a living, and my wife insists that I spend at least some time with her and our son) Mr. Pope asked a very reasonable question, and so far I have been unable to find an answer.

    To really answer this question, we have to find a way to compare apples to apples, and with the amazing diversity in taxing methods between the various states, that is a very difficult thing to do. Many states leave more of the funding to be done by local government, but also leave those same local governments with more of the taxing authority. (We can debate the wisdom/stupidity of this at some other time.)

    How about this. As a percentage of non-federal taxes, fees, surcharges and whatever else we want to call the ways we fund various government functions, how much of our state’s revenue goes to funding public education? (We need to include all state and local taxes here.)

    If someone has that number, then we can go to the next question. How does that compare with other states?

    As to Goldy’s apparent contention that we need a state income tax, and that it could somehow be made revenue-neutral, I have some scepticism. The concern for many of us is that the income tax (primarily a tax on workers) would be implemented, and then the sales tax would start to creep back up. See California as an example.

    That sales tax, which exempts basic necessities such as food and shelter, isn’t nearly as regressive as many of us like to say. Many countries that we consider progressive use a “Value Added Tax”, which could be considered to be little more than a hidden sales tax.

    Still, if somehow we could find a way to prove that a change to an income tax would be truly revenue-neutral and that it would shift some of the burden away from our poorest people and towards those with more ability to pay, it could have a chance. But many folks would be difficult to convince. Lots of us have been to California.

  59. 69

    Diny spews:

    Money is not relevant to education. My 14 year old is a fulltime college student, my 11 year old in 8th. We have attended TX schools(high amount of money per student) and WA schools(low amount per student) and homeschooled. I was able to homeschool for a couple hundred dollars- before homeschooling, my childrens achievements were slightly above average, after 1 year of being home, their scores were through the roof! We spent on average of 2 hours on schooling when they were home.

    What I am saying is; if children are not sucessful in the Public Education system and/or are failing, it is the parents responsiblity. PERIOD. Last time I checked the Government was not listed on my children’s birth certificates. Nor anywhere in our constitution does it discuss that it is the governments job to make sure we are educated.

    WA public schools offer a very open and loving environment, but to us seem behind on the academic curve, TX schools at least through our experiences are incredibly militant and not concerned about the childs emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing-but offer more challenging academic opportunities.

    It was my responsiblity to make sure that my children are fed, loved and educated. I will not depend on Educational institutes to raise my children. I take the responsiblity of educating my children seriously- that is after all what being an American is all about. We need to stop encouraging parents to rely on the schools for their childrens needs, educate the parents on being true American citizens- I believe that is what will eliminate many of our issues.