Education Funding Update

It’s been a big week in the fight for full and fair funding of our schools.

Spokane’s Spokesman-Review newspaper ran an article from Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson on the crisis of education funding in our schools and the issues across our state that call for immediate action from the legislature to fully fund our schools. Nelson wrote:

Last week, in the midst of subfreezing temperatures, a school in Fife, Washington, had to close because it didn’t have heat. A year and a half ago, lead was found in the water at Tacoma public schools – something that particularly affects brain and nervous system development in children. And in a statewide listening tour just over a year ago, we heard a dad from Eastern Washington describe driving hundreds of miles each week so that his child can attend special education classes in Spokane that were unavailable in their hometown.

These crises in our schools have not gone unnoticed – at least not by most people. Yet in a Jan. 7 op-ed for The Spokesman-Review, the Republican majority leader in the state Senate, Mark Schoesler, said advocates have “created an illusion of a crisis in public schools.” To parents, students, educators and lawmakers working tirelessly to address these crises, Schoesler’s words are extremely concerning. I would guess they are especially concerning to the dad from Eastern Washington who spoke at the listening tour since he is from Ritzville – Schoesler’s hometown.

It’s astounding that Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler would have called our education funding challenge “an illusion of a crisis”. Even worse, today Schoesler told reporters that it was “none of your business” when or if the Republicans would ever actually release any education funding plan of their own!

It’s increasingly clear that Republicans just don’t want to fund our schools. But we can still act.

This week, education advocates and teachers held one of the largest rallies at the state capitol in history – nearly 7,000 people were at the capitol building to advocate for full funding of our schools.

The rally was covered by media across the state – the Seattle Times, the Spokesman-Review, the Everett Herald, the Tacoma News Tribune, and KOMO TV.

The will of the people of Washington is clear – it’s time to fund our schools. Now we just need to get the legislature to act.

The first step the legislature can take is to pass the “levy cliff” bill. Schools across Washington State facing funding cuts because of legislative inaction would see a reprieve under legislation passed out of committee by House Democrats this week. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee voted on a 17-15 party line vote to pass HB 1059, the “levy cliff” bill that would delay a cut to levies that local school districts rely on to pay for teachers, school supplies, and other essential costs. If HB 1059 doesn’t pass and the legislature doesn’t act, school districts could be forced to lay off thousands of teachers, raise class sizes, and hurt the kids who rely on a great education for a bright future in life.

You can find a list of legislators and their contact information here. Let them know the importance of voting yes to fund our schools and fix the levy cliff. The voters know it needs to happen and it’s time for the legislature to listen!

Save Our Health Care!

The outcry to save the Affordable Care Act and preserve essential health care for millions of Americans has been huge! Across the country people rallied to save health care, including thousands here in Washington.

And in Spokane, hundreds of people chanted “Save our health care!” at a speech given by House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

That’s not the only news – today the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released an analysis finding that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would take health care away from 32 million Americans and would DOUBLE insurance premiums.

Republicans are starting to feel the pressure from the public to save health care, but we need to step it up. We need to make sure that Republicans hear the message – 750,000 Washingtonians and millions more Americans are counting on the Affordable Care Act for health care.

Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is the Republican chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee. His committee – where Sen. Patty Murray is the Democratic lead – will oversee much of the Affordable Care Act repeal process. Call his office at 202-224-4944 and let him know that we can’t take away health insurance from millions of Americans and double insurance premiums by repealing the Affordable Care Act!

 

Thanks for reading – you can reach us at [email protected] with your thoughts and feedback. Let’s keep a spotlight on the legislature this year and we’ll stay in touch with you about how we can work together to fight back, beat the Republicans, and deliver wins for the people of Washington!

 

The WA Democrats Communications Team