I-1351 Standoff Still Keeping Legislators is In Olympia – Teachers Union Wants $2 Billion
It's often been said that politicians spend money like a drunken sailor. Now, it appears the Washington Education Association wants to do the same, and it's YOUR money.
Washington state how has an operating budget for the next two years, and the government didn't shut down. However, legislators are still in their third special session and the thorny issue is a standoff over Initiative 1351. The voter-approved mandate to reduce class sizes would require about $2 billion dollars over the next two years to hire new teachers.
However, it is safe to say that after seeing how this issue has played out, the WEA misled voters about the initiative. Campaign ads and literature said it wouldn't cost any money, but that was wrong. It is an unfunded liability, meaning no new taxes or revenue was attached to the bill. Like similar issues, the legislature now must try to find a way to pay for it.
It's like buying a car, but you don't have the money.
Nobody wants 45-50 kids in a class, but the difference here is between about 25-28 kids and 30-35. Numerous studies have shown there's no relevant difference between the test and progress scores of students in a class of 25 and one of 30-35, but the WEA played on the feel-good premise that smaller class sizes are good.
Voters bought it, and passed the Initiative. Now, the legislature is faced with trying to come up with the money to hire the teachers. Much of the reason the WEA pushed this Initiative is because all these new teachers and their union dues will bring in over $33 million dollars to the union over the life of the bill.
The $38.2 billion dollar fiscal budget for 2015-2017 does not include the money for I-1351. Some have suggested the WEA help foot the bill, since it was their idea.
There's no end in sight as to when legislature might come up with a solution for this problem, but if the WEA has their way, it will come from your pockets.