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Pay raises for teachers face uncertain future

Educators tell a House committee that they are falling behind because the Legislature has rejected cost-of-living raises approved by voters.
State Rep. Hans Dunshee

State Rep. Hans Dunshee

At a hearing Tuesday, no one spoke against restoring a cost-of-living raise for teachers and other K-12 and community college employeet.

More than a dozen instructors and school support personnel. plus three education profession associations, spoke in favor of a bill to restore the suspended 1.3 percent cost-of-living raise for educators.

"This is my sixth year teaching, and I've never seen a COLA," fourth-grade teacher Katherine Redmond told the House Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday. Teachers and others talked about taking second jobs and being unable to send their kids to four-year colleges

"We're losing our best teachers to industry," said Tim Kopp, a science teacher from the Riverside district near Spokane. Chase Larson, a social studies teacher from Kennewick, said: "Three is a crisis in our profession. ... Forty-six percent of teachers leave within five years. We're not hanging on to our talent."

Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, introduced the COLA bill. Voters passed a 2000 initiative enacting annual cost-of-living raises law in a 2000. Since then, the Legislature has suspended the raises for four of the past seven biennial budgets to balance the state's financial accounts. The last cost-of-living increase was in 2008.

Inflation has reduced the spending power of teachers' and other school employees' salaries. Dunshee said the bill addresses "a 16 percent wage cut in value that took place in the classroom in the last six years."

Gov. Jay Inslee pushed to restore the cost-of-living increases this session as part of his proposal to allocate an extra $200 million for education improvements ordered by the Washington Supreme Court in 2012. The Legislature appropriated  $982 million last year, the first year in the 2013-2015 fiscal biennium. Overall, the state will have to allocate an extra roughly $5 billion from 2013 to mid-2019 to meet the Supreme Court's requirements. Dunshee's bill would allocate $60.3 million for cost-of-living raises in 2014.

The bill will likely pass the Democratic-controlled House But Senate Majority Coalition Caucus — 24 Republicans and two Democrats that control that chamber — has been chilly toward appropriating any extra money in 2014.

For exclusive coverage of the state government, check out Crosscut's Under the Dome page.

John Stang covers state government for Crosscut. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Wed, Feb 5, 9:28 a.m. Inappropriate

Watched with interest on TVW that Representatives were uncertain about "where to find the funding"...Let's begin w suspending (don't have to eliminate if that is too untenable) just suspend a small part of the nearly $100 billion in tax preferences we will fund as taxpayers this biennia.

After all, it has been real easy to suspend the COLAs for teachers for the past several years. They've done their part...maybe a suspension of just a very small part of these preferences is in order? Good grief....

Rich1

Posted Wed, Feb 5, 7:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Good post Rich1. I see crossrip still has his/her head in a bag of denial and corporate indoctrination.

Posted Wed, Feb 5, 9:38 a.m. Inappropriate

Gov. Jay Inslee pushed to restore the cost-of-living increases this session as part of his proposal to allocate an extra $200 million for education improvements ordered by the Washington Supreme Court in 2012.

Everybody gets why the state supreme court ordered the legislature to spend more so the teachers' union (the WEA) would get richer, right? The justices did that in the McCleary opinion in 2012.

In this state some of the deepest pockets are those of the public sector employee unions, including the WEA. They hide how rich and powerful they are; nobody can post a URL here to a webpage or document that shows how much dues revenue the WEA has hauled in for each of the past 15 or so years (as one example).

Public sector unions use their immense secret wealth in abusive ways, including intimidating judges and justices. When it comes to the WEA, it most certainly is not "all about the children".

The WEA is a big, rich pimp that incessantly pushes regressive taxes. It uses a dirty campaigning firm called Moxie Media frequently (Google stories about its fines from election watchdogs to see some what it does).

The WEA is the big player behind the scenes in supreme court seat races. Take what happened in 2010. It and the SEIU (another union getting rich off public money) funded a PAC, and that PAC then shifted money to another PAC to hide the source of the funds. PAC No. 2 then made independent expenditures attacking the justices who didn’t act dishonestly in exactly the ways the unions wanted.

Days before the filing deadline (in June 2010) a lawyer filed the PDC report asserting he would challenge one of the justices for a seat on the supreme court. That lawyer did no campaigning (that was never the point). In the month before the primary election about $243,000 from the public employee unions (washed through PACs) was spent attacking the character of the incumbent justice. These were independent expenditures, made in opposition to the incumbent’s reelection candidacy. A PAC called “Impartial Justice” paid for the character attack campaigning. The ads’ themes were that this justice was unethical and should not be reelected because he can’t be trusted to discharge his duties fairly. He was shown in some mailers as a clown in the pocket of “suits” (rich interest groups he supposedly would favor despite the law). Some TV spots throughout the state showed that same image, and put out that same attack message.

Moxie Media was the firm that produced this campaign and put out the mailers and TV spots.

Where did the money come from originally? The political action arms of the WEA and SEIU. Those sources hid behind the “Impartial Justice” PAC, which had obtained the funds from a different PAC, called FAIRPAC.

Some might ask why tax-pimping unions would be laundering money through PACs to throw at supreme court seat races. It is because they want the justices to create law forcing higher taxing and spending to benefit the public sector unions. That is exactly what the justices did in the McCleary decision.

There were similar huge payments in 2006 to candidates for supreme court seats as well by the WEA and the SEIU.

That's different than how other rich special interests and individuals around here operate -- they don't use their deep pockets to get favorable and unwarranted case law out of the justices.

So now we have the McCleary opinion, which orders the state to pay teachers (and by extension their union) huge additional amounts. The justices want cakewalks to their next reelection, and they won't have to campaign or face challengers as long as they assist the WEA in getting much richer and more powerful.

crossrip

Posted Thu, Feb 6, 8:21 a.m. Inappropriate

Yes, crossrip, everybody does understand why the state supreme court ordered the legislature to fulfill their constitutional duty - because it is the law and they had been violating it.

The deepest pockets in this state are all corporate, not organized labor. There is no union that can compare to Boeing, Costco, Microsoft, Amazon, or the personal fortunes of Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Boeing asked for and received $8.7 billion in tax breaks in a matter of days. Costco paid for an election so they could sell liquor in their stores. Paul Allen saved a lot of money by buying an election so the state would buy him a stadium. Bill Gates, through his Foundation, is setting education policy in Washington (and across the country). He bought an election to allow charter schools and now he's paying for the charter schools. There isn't any labor organization anywhere in this state - perhaps not even the country - that has this kind of money and power.

coolpapa

Posted Thu, Feb 6, 9:40 a.m. Inappropriate

The deepest pockets in this state are all corporate, not organized labor.

Your fact-free whine is a joke.

Post a URL here to a webpage or document that shows how much dues revenue the WEA and other public sector employee unions confiscated for each of the past 15 or so years. Those are huge numbers, and those unions use a huge percentage of those funds to lobby and influence elections. Public employee unions use a far higher percentage of their revenues trying to buy legal policies than any corporation or rich individual does.

Explain to everyone why the WEA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2008 and 2010 to intimidate justices and lawyers who would challenge them via immense independent expenditures (after laundering those funds through PACs to hide the source of the money).

crossrip

Posted Thu, Feb 6, 10:26 p.m. Inappropriate

"Explain to everyone why the WEA spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to intimidate judges and justices via immense independent expenditures in judicial races (after laundering those funds through PACs to hide the sources of the money)."

Friend, we have an excellent PDC website that can very easily make you look like a fool. In 2012, for example, there were less than $8,000 in independent expenditures for the Supreme Court races:

http://www.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/Candidate/jud_candidates?year=2012

More than $5,000 of that was from one law firm, spent in support of Steven Gonzalez.

The other thing to note is that the judge who raised the most money was none other than Richard Sanders, and I'm thinking not any of it came from the WEA. He did great with folks connected to Kemper Freeman, though.

It's also worth noting that of the judges endorsed by the WEA in 2012, a third of that money was wasted when Brendan Williams flamed out.

Ryan

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 3:01 p.m. Inappropriate

In early 2012 the WEA got the McCleary opinion, because it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on supreme court races in 2006 and 2010. The WEA didn't need to spend money on any of those three judicial races in 2012 -- it had the case law in hand it wanted out of that bench.

Now, post a URL here to a webpage or document that shows how much dues revenue the WEA and other public sector employee unions confiscated for each of the past 15 or so years.

crossrip

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 11:36 a.m. Inappropriate

On my, Ryan and CoolPaPa, I think you are arguing with an ideologue. You cannot use facts or reason with people who are committed to a fantasy instead of reality. In the world of truth we know that unions are at an extreme disadvantage and that they are one of the only forces in society that actually works to protect children. The right-wing nut jobs do not care about people, they want us all to be slaves to corporations. It makes some sense to point out the facts, but do not expect someone who lives in a fantasy world to respond to reality when it is inconvenient for their ideology.

Posted Sun, Feb 9, 3:05 p.m. Inappropriate

Wow. I think you just called me three different pejorative names. Want me to tell you what that means about the substance of your comments?

Let's see if you like facts and reasoning. Post a URL here to a webpage or document that shows how much dues revenue the WEA and other public sector employee unions confiscated for each of the past 15 or so years. Then we can discuss how the unions buy law from policy makers and favorable opinions from the appellate judiciary with that money.

crossrip

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 9:23 a.m. Inappropriate

Wouldn't the proof-in-the-pudding "facts" be what is contributed to races via the public disclosure site previously cited? Who cares what the dues are - trace the money to where it's going. How about less arm waving and you post a URL that shows what undue influence the WEA is having compared to the corporations via their contributions to judicial races? Or how about ANY other facts. Or I guess, we can carry on with the entertaining fantasy.

Lily32

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 10:45 a.m. Inappropriate

Here's the URL to the PDC webpage showing independent expenditure spending in the 2010 supreme court races:

http://www.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/Candidate/jud_candidates?year=2010

As you can see, the only significant spending of that type was $260K. The committee that spent it was "Impartial Justice", which is a PAC that was funded by another PAC (called FAIRPAC). The biggest contributors to FAIRPAC that year were the WEA and the SEIU.

I pretty much explained all this up above. Did you just not read that posting? This all is a matter of public record.

No big corporate spending via PACs is made in judicial races, but public employee unions spend big money on them. No arm-waving from me here -- I'm simply pointing out that the unions representing workers that get public money know that threatening the justices pays off big time. That is what the McCleary opinion is: the justices handing huge amounts of public money to an entity they want to buy protection from. None of the justices want $260,000 spent by PACs dragging their characters through the dirt like "Impartial Justice" did to a justice in 2010. That bench got the message the WEA sent -- loud and clear.

You understand the justices routinely act dishonestly for public sector entities, right? Don't tell me you are going to play stupid about that.

crossrip

Posted Mon, Feb 10, 10:55 a.m. Inappropriate

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. More fluff-fluff.

Lily32

Posted Thu, Feb 13, 9:48 a.m. Inappropriate

You could pay all teachers a million dollars tomorrow, and that wouldn't make a difference to their teaching style.

The court mandate absurdly assumes there is a direct correlation between amount of money spent and educational quality.

Posted Sun, Feb 16, 7:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Crossrip

Let's assume we use your logic just for a moment. First thing we will need to do is rewrite the history textbooks. There was no Gilded Age. Mark Twain had it all wrong believing for a moment that Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan were Robber Barons and that they had even a remote influence on politics. The satirists of the day must have been making it up. You know the Jacob Riis' of the world who noticed all the laws that weren't being created to keep the powerful, powerful. I guess Teddy Roosevelt didn't have to actually create regulative agencies because Upton Sinclair didn't actually write the Jungle and let the population know that corporations were putting bad things in our food. Muckrakers didn't actually stir the pot and let the population and politicians know that their corruptive practices like taking corporate handouts was not in the best interest of the people they served. The great industrial complex doesn't really exist either nor does the munitions juggernaut that helps determine foreign policy. Likewise, on a more local level, we will need to stop paying attention to the fact that politicians are reserving board rooms to accommodate the huge number of lobbyists that continuously remind our wonderful politicians that they owe their seat to them instead of the population who voted for them. I had no idea that my small donation to the WEA went so far. I understand that there are 80,000 teachers paying into the pot but even at that level it doesn't begin to touch what corporations pour into politics. Boeing asks for 8 billion and in an impromptu special session, gets it (in days). The WEA has been asking for lower class sizes (we're 47th in the nation)and competitive wages for teachers for decades (we're the lowest of all west coast states)and all we get is .... hear that? That's a cricket chirping in the back of the room. Yeah, the teacher's union is a huge problem.

The Supreme Court is attempting to get the legislature to pay 100% of the bill that they ran up 100%. The legislature has never paid 100% nor did they even know what the 100% was paying for. In 2009, the legislature said THIS IS BASIC EDUCATION, THIS IS WHAT WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING AND THIS IS WHAT IT COSTS. Then they went back to business as usual and said, we'll pay 80% again and let the local districts pay the rest.

The Supreme Court called them out on it. FYI- this is coming from a Republican. Not a nut job, but a Republican who, even though is a conservative at heart (there's nothing wrong with being conservative) actually looks at the world around him and notices things that need to be noticed. Nobody is telling me how to think. Is anyone telling you?

Posted Sun, Feb 16, 8:20 a.m. Inappropriate

unsustainability

"The court mandate absurdly assumes there is a direct correlation between amount of money spent and educational quality."

Actually, the court mandate assumes that the legislature should not pass mandates that are not fully funded. The Supreme Court did not look at any correlation between money and product. They looked at what the legislature said they were going to spend and what they are actually forking out.

Why is it ok that the state has to pay the whole bill for other things it says it will, but not for education? Seems pretty narrow minded doesn't it? I know that if I contracted with the state, did a job for them and ended up not being paid for that job, I would sue them. Oh yeah, that's what the McCleary family did.

Once the legislature meets its Constitutional duties (which is the only reason they are in office I might add) then we can deal with your interpretation of what kind of product we are receiving for the complete investment we are making.

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