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Statement on Court Ruling in McCleary Case

Posted by Ben Secord at Sep 11, 2014 09:42 PM |

In response to today’s Supreme Court ruling in the McCleary case, executive director Remy Trupin issued the following statement:

With today’s ruling, attention now turns to the upcoming legislative session, one of the most important in recent memory.

The State legislature has been held in contempt for the first time in its history and the Court made clear that failure to pass a budget and plan for achieving full funding of basic education by 2018 will result in sanctions or other remedial measures. The message to lawmakers is this: act in 2015 or face a Court that has just issued its last warning.

As our amicus filing articulated, there is no responsible way to meet the funding requirements of McCleary without raising new revenue. We were encouraged that Justice Johnson referenced our brief during the contempt hearing on September 3rd, questioning the value of the hundreds of tax breaks on the state’s books when matched against the priority of educating our children.

Closing wasteful tax loopholes is a good place to start. In the coming months, we look forward to working with lawmakers and advocates to advance the full range of revenue solutions needed to ensure prosperity for all our kids.

New Revenue Needed to Deliver Better Education to All Students

Posted by Ben Secord at Sep 03, 2014 08:40 PM |

Today, lawyers for the state will go before justices of the Washington Supreme Court in the latest showdown in the McCleary case on education funding. The Court has ordered state lawmakers to defend their lack of progress on meeting the requirements of the ruling, which calls for billions in new funding for K-12 schools by 2018. They face contempt charges and other possible sanctions.

In August, we filed an amicus brief with the State Supreme Court, making the case that new revenue was needed to adequately fund our schools and invest in a host of other services that kids need to succeed inside and outside the classroom. Ahead of the hearing this afternoon, our executive director Remy Trupin released the following statement:

Raising new revenue is the only responsible way to meet the requirements of the McCleary ruling.
At its core, the McCleary decision is about ensuring that all our kids get a world-class education, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or the zip code they call home.  That requires stronger financial support for K-12 schools, better pay for teachers, and investments in early learning, child care, health care, affordable housing and other services that kids and families need to thrive.
Proposals to fund education without additional revenue are a bad deal for kids and our state.  Following this path would undermine the promise of McCleary by forcing deep cuts in many of the services and supports crucial to influencing success in the classroom, particularly for low-income students and students of color.
Lawmakers can and should meet the requirements of McCleary and invest in other services that kids need to be successful by raising revenue. If they are serious about creating a brighter future for all of our kids, it’s the only way.”


The arguments in today's hearing and the ruling to follow will set the tone in the debate over education funding and the state budget during the 2015 legislative session.

We'll continue to track the developments in the McCleary case going forward, as it will determine much about the well-being of our children, communities, and economy in the years to come.


Kids Need More Than K-12 to Thrive

Posted by Elena Hernandez at Sep 02, 2014 09:26 PM |
Filed under: Education, Poverty

This week, over one million kids across Washington state are headed back to the classroom to begin another school year.  Meanwhile, state lawmakers are headed back to court where they face contempt for lack of progress in fulfilling our constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education. It is a dramatic prelude to what will most definitely be a challenging budget year for policymakers.  To make the best decisions for Washington state’s kids and our collective well-being in the future, it is imperative that policymakers recognize that the success of our kids depends on support both inside and outside the classroom. 

For the nearly one in three (625,000) kids living in families that struggle to make ends meet  in Washington state, the start of another school year presents a unique  set of challenges.  Kids that don’t have secure housing or adequate food find it difficult to perform well in school or attend on a regular basis. With unemployment still high, many of their parents lack stable employment, the stress of which can ripple throughout the family. In Washington state:

  • Four of every 10 (39 percent) children are living in families that are struggling to cover the cost of housing.  Last year over 30,000 kids in Washington’s public education system were homeless. 
  • One of every five children (20 percent) in our state live in households that have difficulty putting food on the table.
  • Nearly one in three of kids (31 percent) have parents that are unable to find secure employment.


Research shows the impact of such adverse experiences can last a lifetime. In Washington state, lack of economic security is the number one adverse experience children face.

If we want to improve the educational outcomes for our kids, they need more than K-12. To be sure, a high quality K-12 education is essential for a child’s future success and is a basic right guaranteed to them under our state constitution. But resources outside the classroom are equally as important in setting them up for success in school and beyond.  High quality early learning, access to affordable higher education, supports for parents trying to make ends meet while seeking employment, and health and human services that provide stability for children are critical investments for our kids, communities, and economy.   

Some policymakers think our state can’t afford to make these investments in our children and families. We know the opposite is true - we can’t afford not to. 

So, as students walk into their classrooms tomorrow and policymakers consider the education funding challenges before them, they should remember it takes a high quality K-12 system and a lot more to support children’s success in school.  Let’s not pit education funding against other equally important investments that are essential to our collective future as a state.  When our kids do better, we all do better.

To learn more about the economic well being of kids in Washington, take a look at our blog post for the 2014 KIDS COUNT database. For more information about our take on the education funding debate, read the amicus brief Pacifica Law Group filed on our behalf.



Robert Reich at Town Hall September 27th

Posted by Ben Secord at Aug 21, 2014 05:13 PM |

Please join us and our partners of the Reclaiming Prosperity series on Saturday, September 27th for a special event with former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. 

Tickets are only $5 at Town Hall. Click here to get yours before they sell out.

Now a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, Reich was named one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century by Time Magazine. He is the author of 13  books including Aftershock and Beyond Outrage, and presented the Sundance award-winning documentary Inequality for All.

Reich recently commended Seattle for leading a long-overdue movement toward a living wage. At Town Hall on September 27th, he will discuss national income inequality trends, the effect these trends are having on the poorest of the poor, how the income gap is “undermining our democracy,” and why Seattle got it right. Reich will be joined by an expert panel for an onstage Q&A.

Click here to get your tickets before they are gone! The program will run from 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

We are proud sponsors of the Reclaiming Prosperity series. Additional partners include Citizen University, True Patriot, OneAmerica, Fuse Washington, the Progress Alliance, Working Washington, and Seattle University Law School. 

Save the Date: December 12th for Budget Matters 2014

Posted by Tara Lee at Aug 06, 2014 06:15 PM |

We know in the heat of summer, it may be hard to think ahead to December. But all you have to do right now is save the date for our third annual policy conference, Budget Matters 2014. The event will be held on Friday, December 12th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

The annual conference brings together more than 300 people, including advocates, legislators, students, and community partners. Previous guest speakers have included Van Jones, Heather McGhee, Jared Bernstein, and Governor Jay Inslee.

We are hard at work setting up speakers and panel discussions. We will have more details and a registration link soon.

But for now, enjoy the sun and check out the video from last year's conference.

Inslee video

Amicus Brief to State Supreme Court: New Revenue Needed to Meet McCleary Requirements

Posted by Kim Justice at Aug 04, 2014 07:05 PM |

Today, Pacifica Law Group filed an amicus brief with the Washington State Supreme Court on our behalf that makes it clear that legislators cannot responsibly address the requirements of the McCleary decision to fully fund education without raising new revenue.

Joining us as co-signers on the brief are Centerstone, Equity in Education Coalition, Eldercare Alliance, Solid-Ground, Statewide Poverty Action Network and students from the University of Washington.

In the amicus brief we argue that the math doesn’t pencil out when you try to fully fund basic education without new revenue. It details the devastating impact of potential budget cuts on students, low-income families, communities of color, supports for older adults and children, and more.

More than two years after the court’s McCleary ruling was issued, the legislature has largely relied on unsustainable funding to make additional investments in basic education and remains behind schedule in adequately funding education.  

The amicus brief recommends that the court encourage the legislature to raise additional revenue that is stable and dependable in order to fully fund basic education. Failing to raise revenue to meet our education funding needs would result in cuts to other areas of the state budget that kids need to thrive. Without stable housing, access to health care and nutritious food, and other supports that create long-term economic security, we simply won’t create better outcomes for all kids in Washington. And isn’t that what McCleary is all about?

Read the full amicus brief here.

More Evidence Suggests Tackling Child Poverty Best Thing to Do for Our Kids

Posted by Elena Hernandez at Jul 31, 2014 04:40 PM |
Filed under: Poverty, Economic Security

Elena Hernandez - A recurring theme is emerging – high poverty rates and declining family economic security are hurting Washington state’s kids and our economy. A new report from Child Trends is the third report in one month highlighting the importance of tackling systemic child poverty (see our post on the 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book and the 2014 Opportunity Scorecard).

Today’s report provides new state-level data illustrating the prevalence of eight adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – particularly stressful events that are strongly linked to negative outcomes later in life, such as obesity, alcoholism, and depression.

Economic hardship is the most common adverse childhood experience in Washington state, a consistent finding across all states. One out of every 4 kids have gone through repeated periods where their family found it difficult to cover costs of even the most basic needs like food or housing.  

When a quarter of our kids experience economic hardship during their childhood we cannot achieve our full potential as a state.  Developing a strategic and targeted approach to reducing poverty and removing barriers to opportunity should be a top state priority. 

Other highlights from the Washington state–specific data include:

  • Over one-third (36 percent) of children experienced one or two adverse childhood experiences at some point from birth to age 17. The more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely they are to experience negative outcomes in the future.
  • Nine percent of kids are either the victim of violence or witness violence in their neighborhoods.
  • One out of every five children (21 percent) lives with a parent or guardian that is either separated or has gone through a divorce.
  • Twelve percent of children live in a home where someone struggles with alcohol or drugs or suffers from mental illness.  In fact the prevalence of mental health related ACEs in Washington state is among the highest in the country.



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We're currently seeking a Communications Manager. The central role for this position is to use the high quality research and analysis of Budget & Policy Center to shape the debate and create policy change. Check out the description here.

Legislative Testimony

Senior Budget Analyst Kim Justice recently testified before Senate Ways and Means against a bill that would fund education at the expense of other budget investments. Watch it here. 

Kim 5881

Budget Matters 2013

More than 300 people -- advocates, students, lawmakers, and policy experts joined us for our second annual policy conference. We heard from Heather McGhee, Jared Bernstein, and Governor Inslee.

Click here for video clips, photos, and PowerPoint presentations from the break-out sessions.

Our new video has highlights from the day. 

Heather McGhee

Save the date for this year's conference: Friday, December 12th, 2014 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.