Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How much is enough?

The Washington Education Association is demanding more money in the state budget - and going on strike for it - every day in a different school district. But they never say how much. How much is enough?
Briefly, the current budgets being considered in Olympia add a LOT of money to k-12 education:
"All three budget proposals for 2015-17 — by Gov. Jay Inslee, the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate — give teachers an overdue cost-of-living raise. All three reduce class sizes for grades K-3. All three drop at least $1.3 billion more into basic education funding to comply with the state Supreme Court’s landmark McCleary decision.” - Seattle Times
$1.3 billion is real money to me. How much are they asking for?
Second, these strikes are illegal. Is the WEA telling teachers they are being asked to break well established state law? Not the few I talked to.  See Sound Politics.
Third, consequences: Why can teachers walk off the job and not lose one penny of pay? They have no consequences for breaking the law.
But you and I are not so blessed. If I did a taxpayer strike and didn’t pay my property taxes the county would seize our house, sell it and give us a pittance. A strike by me would have huge consequences. (If I only went out for one day the cost would be less than $100; not a lot, you may say, but it's cash out of my pocket. 
In 2015 when I pay my property taxes on our suburban split-level I am paying over $2,000 to the local school district. $2,000 is real money to me. How much do they expect me to pay?
(We have no kids in school; our youngest child graduated years ago.)


Bruce B said...

Your question of how much education spending is enough to satisfy McCleary (and thereby our state constitution) is a good one. I don’t know the answer. I did find one site that explained its numbers thoughtfully:


They cite one report that says we need $3.3B during the next budget cycle, or $1.65B per year, rising to $4.5B in the following cycle. They then cite another report that says we eventually need to spend an additional $2.8B per year on teacher compensation, though they’re unclear why the first report didn’t include that. So the total is about $5B per year eventually and probably more like $3B per year in the next cycle. I think we currently spend around $11B, so another $3-5B is a substantial increase, though not ridiculous, as some states (such as NY), as well as many private schools in WA, already spend about twice what we do per student.

I haven’t analyzed the reasoning behind those numbers. But they’re a lot more than the $0.7B per year that, according to your post, is currently being proposed in Olympia. So if you seriously want to know “How much to (sic) they want?”, the answer is: a lot more than is being proposed.

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