Don't let 'poison pills' undermine our schools

(This is adapted from an action from our friends at Washington's Paramount Duty — http://paramountduty.org/stop-betsy-devos-policies-in-washington-state-what-happened-to-sb-5313/)

Over the last two years, our state legislature has started to improve the level of funding for Washington's K-12 schools. The mechanism by which they effected this change was through a simultaneous reduction of local tax levies along with an increase of state tax levies. You might remember this in the context of the Washington Supreme Court's McCleary decision.

According to a recent op-ed written by Puyallup teacher and union president Karen McNamara:

[The] Washington Supreme Court’s McCleary decision resulted in increased funding for our schools, but the state does not fund everything. School districts pay for arts programs, extra nurses and counselors, teachers and instructional assistants to reduce class sizes and much more...When the Legislature voted to dramatically restrict school levies in 2017, even lawmakers knew they would need to provide a 'levy fix' in the next budget.

The 'levy fix' that Karen McNamara refers to has taken the form of Senate Bill 5313, which would relax the levy restrictions introduced in 2017 so that local school districts can make better choices for their students. Unfortunately, two state Senators refused to vote it out of the Ways and Means Committee unless the bill had a pair of 'poison pill' amendments attached to it. Our friends at Washington's Paramount Duty described the two amendments thusly:

"The first amendment would wind up slashing teacher pay and...limit teachers from collectively bargaining with school districts for fair wages. The second amendment would allow charter schools to get new public money from the state, without requiring a public vote, even as the legislature claims they don't have enough money to meet the basic education needs of students in our public schools...Senators Palumbo and Mullet...held the entire state budget hostage unless these extreme demands were met. This is no way to govern, and it comes at the expense of our public schools and teachers."

The bill still needs to be approved by the full State Senate, the House, and Governor Inslee, which means we can still stop these terrible amendments from undermining our schools.

Today's Action: Demand a clean levy lid lift bill

Today we're going to make four phone calls. One to your state Senator, one to each of your Representatives, and one to Governor Inslee.

Call your State Legislators

You can find their phone numbers here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/

Sample Script:

Hi, my name is {NAME}, and I'm calling from {CITY, ZIP}. I am calling to ask {LEGISLATOR} to reject the poison pill amendments that were added to SB 5313 and demand a clean school levy bill instead. Our students and teachers deserve better. Thank you!

Call Governor Inslee

You can reach the Governor at (360) 902-4111.

Sample Script:

Hi, my name is {NAME}, and I'm calling from {CITY, ZIP}. I am calling to ask Governor Inslee to veto SB 5313, the school levy bill, unless the legislature removes its poison pill amendments. Our students and teachers deserve better. Thank you!

Background

You can see the text of SB 5313 here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5313&Year=2019&Initiative=false

You can read all of Karen McNamara's op-ed here: https://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/article228612314.html

Events

Medicare For All Speak Out with Rep. Jayapal

Saturday, April 6, 2019, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

The Summit on Pike, 420 E Pike St, Seattle

Congresswoman Jayapal believes that health care is a human right. Yet even though we are the richest country in the world, our for-profit health care system is bankrupting families.

That’s why she introduced the Medicare For All Act of 2019, to improve and expand Medicare so all Americans have comprehensive and life-saving health care.

RSVP here: https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-7137352897289451776