Thursday, September 27, 2012

Big votes ahead . . .

In November, we have important choices to make at the national, state, and local levels.  Though we have these opportunities, I believe what the State Supreme Court decides in the two-thirds majority to raise taxes lawsuit will have as much impact on our work as any single ballot initiative.  In this Tacoma News Tribune article we get a sense of how difficult this issue is for the justices.  A retiring justice labeled it the elephant in the room.  He went further when he asked the following question of Solicitor General Maureen Hart who was defending the case for the state.

" Assume for a moment, the people, through a simple majority, pass an initiative that prohibits the Legislature from passing any tax unless it passes by a 90 percent majority and is signed by the governor and the speakers of both houses and Santa Claus," said Fairhurst, who then paused and inserted "this is Justice Chambers' question" as though to make sure he got all the credit.

Would such an initiative conflict with the constitutional requirement that a majority is needed, Chambers asked Hart via Fairhurst.

How the justices rule will have a significant impact on public school funding in both the short and long term as I have shared in previous posts.  I'm hoping that the majority will take the elephant in the room head on and make a decision that will allow us to move forward understanding what can and can't drive the ability of our legislators to raise revenue.

In a related story in Education Week we learn that the Washington Education Association has prioritized getting Inslee into the governorship over defeating I-1240, the charter initiative.

Helping Democrat Jay Inslee defeat Republican Rob McKenna in the gubernatorial race is a higher priority for the statewide teachers' union this year than whether voters approve public charter schools.

"I think it's pretty clear that we have a real priority in making sure that we get someone elected as governor who will put kids first," said Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association.

In the three previous votes on charter schools, WEA had a larger footprint in the no campaign.  If the initiative is successful, we may look back on their choice of priority as a contributing factor.

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