Revisions to school funding needed

The community has spoken loudly with their votes making it clear that they support our public schools. Last November, they passed a bond measure to reconstruct our aging schools and followed up three months later to tax themselves with a levy to fill the education budget void still left by the state funding formula.

I hope the community is just as vocal with their votes when it comes time to tell our legislative representatives whether we think they are with us or against us on valuing public education. The state education funding agreement that came out last year had problems, which might excuse Rep. Kristine Reeves’ “no” vote. It moved in the right direction by giving us a larger base allocation, but not enough to eliminate the need for a local levy. It almost seemed punitive in cutting the pay of Federal Way teachers by 6 percent in comparison with our metropolitan neighbor Auburn. (We are apparently more akin to Fife and Milton). Was it because the Republicans lost two seats in Federal Way? I trust Senator Mark Miloscia argued vehemently against this unfair pay adjustment for our teachers.

Representative Mike Pellicciotti did vote for the education budget, so I hope he will work to get our teachers on scale with Auburn and get our fair share of education funding so we don’t need a levy. We should all understand that we pay a much higher property tax rate than Seattle and Bellevue. (Those progressive hypocrites who say “stick it to the rich” keep their high value properties taxed at unfairly low rates). Since he tried to fix the regressive car tab formula that forced vulnerable families driving old cars to be taxed like their cars were brand new, I presume he is against regressive tax schemes.

The state education budget needs to be kicked up significantly more to eliminate double taxation from levies. We desperately needed the levy because the state continues to tax us at higher rates than other cities, but gives us back less than we need. “Blue Wave” progressives need to put their money where their mouth is and get cities like Seattle and Bellevue to pay their fair share in property taxes. If they did, many cities would actually pay slightly lower/equal rates, and basic public education needs could be met without levies.

Where will our legislators be on funding education? The “progressives” in Seattle are pressing for an income tax or excise tax that would likely harm small business owners from the International District, down the Rainier corridor into Federal Way. It’s laughable to be told a highly volatile capital gains tax would be a more reliable or robust source of funding education than the most stable and robust of them all: real property. I do hope our newly minted legislators run away from the heresy in Seattle and never look back or risk having their campaigns turned to pillars of salt.

Funding basic public education is a moral obligation as much as it is a national security interest. It’s about as ideologically neutral as it gets. If we get sidetracked on sad stories and violins about the death penalty, or the need for good guys with guns in our stadiums and schools, or needing abortions on demand, or needing an income tax to fund public education, that should tell most community members whether our candidates stand with us or against us.

Hiroshi Eto, Federal Way

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