Education shouldn't be dangled as tax bait
Washington state's budget is a document expressing our values and priorities. Education should be front and center. There's no need for the public to be forced to buy back education cuts.
GOV. Chris Gregoire's series of education-reform proposals were greeted with muted applause partly because most people are more concerned about her plans to cut education budgets.
Gregoire proposes reductions for the K-12 system that would hit levy-equalization funding and shorten the school year. Higher education would not go unscathed. These things are then included in her revenue proposal, a clear attempt to move voters toward for a sales-tax increase.
The governor should not dangle high-leveraged investments, such as education, as incentives to get voters on board with a sales-tax increase.
The Seattle Times opposes any more cuts to education, from the K-12 system to state universities and community colleges. Our educational system is our future. There are certain values voters should not have to buy back.
Taking this position undoubtedly means legislators make more cuts elsewhere, including social programs, corrections and state employee payroll. Let the public be asked to "buy back" those cuts if the sales-tax proposal passes.
Legislative leaders must make the tough choices and fund priorities straight from the budget.
The governor's reforms are not the problem. What is not to like about a stronger teacher and principal evaluation system, partnerships between struggling schools and universities, relaxing requirements for students and administrators to create more time for instruction and placing executive-level attention on education beyond high school?
Both existing needs and future investments must be prioritized and paid for within the budget. The state budget is a document expressing our values and priorities. Education should be front and center. The public should not be forced to buy back education cuts. The Legislature simply should not wield its budget ax in that direction.
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