Supreme Court ruling: Good for kids

Lawmakers continue to huddle behind closed doors at the capitol. Credit: MathTeacherGuy/Flickr

Finally. A group of Washington leaders have put kids first.

In a 6-3 vote, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that Initiative 1053, which requires a supermajority — two-thirds — vote in the state Legislature to raise revenue or close tax loopholes, is unconstitutional.

The Court ruled that the Washington state Constitution sets the rules for the Legislature and only requires a simple majority to raise revenue or modify tax preferences.

This ruling is a huge win for Washington’s kids and schools.

The League of Education Voters joined forces with the Washington Education Association, parents, taxpayers and lawmakers to challenge the constitutionality of Initiative 1053.

Washington citizens have consistently supported initiatives that would make it difficult to raise taxes — most recently this fall when 67 percent of voters approved Initiative 1185, which re-instated Initiative 1053.

Raising revenue should be difficult, but not impossible.

Initiative 1053 made it nearly impossible to implement  any  tax increases. It hamstrung our legislators in their efforts to uphold their paramount duty to invest in the quality public schools our children need to succeed in life. Our kids suffered at the hands of a small minority of legislators who could veto any new revenue options for education.

Washington schools need to be fully funded in order to ensure that all kids reach their potential. This week’s ruling, combined with the recent McCleary Supreme Court order that the Legislature fully fund K-12 education, will help ensure that our kids have all the resources they need to get an excellent education.

The ruling on Initiative 1053 comes at the perfect time. During this legislative session, Washington’s senators and representatives must develop a plan to fully fund K-12 education. By any data you look at, Washington isn’t getting the job done when it comes to funding education. More money in the system  will  make a difference for each Washington student.

But money alone isn’t enough to ensure that we will have the best education system in the world. Improving outcomes for kids is just as important.

In our state, 14,000 students a year drop out. Fewer than 30 out of 100 students are prepared to apply to college, even though two-thirds of future jobs in our state require a college degree or credential.

We all want what is best for our students. But year after year, thanks in part to Initiative 1053, the legislature has not provided the funding to pay for basic resources need to educate our students.

We hope the Washington Supreme Court ruling provides the tools and opportunity for the Legislature to craft a funding plan that ensures that there is ample, equitable, and stable funding for education.

We must do this. The need is urgent. And thanks to the Washington Supreme Court, the time is now.

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