First: 1033 would lock us into a recession budget that is bad for kids.
Washington’s revenues were severely impacted by the worst recession in memory. State revenue for the biennium dropped by $9 billion and the Legislature was forced to cut K-12 by $1.8 billion, and higher education by $618 million and make even deeper cuts to health care and public services. Eyman’s 1033 would reset the base for the state budget, locking us in to these drastically reduced budget levels.
By locking us into today’s low revenues, and restricting revenue growth thereafter to inflation plus population, this measure would effectively prevent the state from making new investments in education required by basic education reform legislation (HB 2261) passed this session.
Beyond basic education reform, Washington would not be able to progress in early learning or higher education. For example, I represent LEV at the Department of Early Learning’s Early Learning Plan creation (draft to be released on December 1st). Over 120 stakeholders have taken part in this, adding their best ideas to create an implementation plan for early learning over the next ten years. If 1033 passes, this plan will not materialize. What does that mean for kids? Over half of Washington children will continue to arrive to kindergarten unprepared and one quarter of these children will not be reading by grade 3.
Finally, some costs borne by government increase faster than general population, like the number of students, and faster than inflation, like health care for teachers and fuel costs for school buses. This measure would force further budget cuts just to meet current obligations.
Put simply, 1033 won’t allow us to pay for what we currently do and won’t allow us to change our schools to give kids the skills we know they need.
Second: R-71 would affirm the domestic partnership legislation that gives individuals and families the legal protections they need.
Despite the depressing budget situation last session, the Legislature and Governor took a bold step in the right direction by extending the legal protections afforded to married couples to families headed by same-sex partners or seniors who form stable households and register with the state.
This legislation is not just another law. This law supports a family with young children, protects a young gay student currently bullied at school, and ensures an older couple can take care of one another in their final years. This law is about Washington families and children and it needs to stay.
We believe all families need the same basic legal protections:
- Labor and employment protections;
- Access to school and medical records;
- Family leave to care for sick family members;
- Insurance and medical rights; and
- Access to pensions and benefits in the event of disability or death of a parent or spouse.
No purpose is served by excluding domestic partners, or the children of gay and lesbian parents, from these protections, responsibilities and benefits, designed to promote family stability.
Additionally, an estimated 3 to 5 percent of students identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, or struggle with their sexual identity. In spite of growing levels of acceptance, sexual minority youths are overrepresented in the numbers of young people who are reported with mental health and substance abuse issues, who are victims of bullying, and who commit suicide. Removing discrimination based on sexual orientation from the law sends a profound message of hope and acceptance to those youths.
R-71 will ensure that all families and individuals have protection, a critical step towards changing our world and changing our schools.
Third: Rep. Laura Grant needs to go back to Olympia to continue working hard on behalf of Washington’s children.
Laura Grant knows what is happening in schools today. How? She’s a teacher. In fact, she’s the only current teacher in the Washington State Legislature. Laura is also a mother of three and a former school board member.
When it comes to schools, we can count on Laura to vote for the best interests of students. Last session, Laura voted for ground-breaking reform of our basic education laws that will boost support for schools and classrooms over the next decade.
Let’s send this education champ back to Olympia!