Children's Success Requires More than Just K-12 Education
Yesterday the Senate approved a proposal to fund education at the expense of all other investments kids need to succeed (Senate Bill 5895). This short-sighted approach undermines the foundation of opportunity our children need to prepare for school and life.
Beginning in 2015, the Senate bill would attempt to fund court-mandated education reforms by limiting spending on public safety, health care and all other areas of state investment to an arbitrary formula (the rate of inflation plus population growth).
While a high-quality education is essential to prepare kids for the future, they also need secure families, safe neighborhoods, and quality health care. Washington state makes a number of investments that help ensure our state’s children have these essentials:
- Health care. The Apple Health for Kids program ensures that over 700,000 children in Washington state can afford to see a doctor when they get sick.
- Family Security. The Working Connections Child Care program provides over 25,000 low-income families with assistance to find affordable child care so they can work, and their children have the early learning opportunities they need to prepare for school.
- Foster care. Washington state provides support to the over 10,000 children who rely on the foster care system for a stable home.
- Safe neighborhoods. State funding for firefighters, police officers, and gang prevention programs keeps our neighborhoods safe so children can play outside.
- Good quality of life. State investments protect our natural resources and guarantee that our water and air are clean.
Funding education at the expense of everything else is the wrong approach for Washington state’s kids. Instead, lawmakers should develop a long-term plan that provides adequate and sustainable resources to allow our children to thrive. There are plenty of good options to choose from. We could raise additional revenue by ending ineffective tax breaks, enacting a capital gains tax, or modernizing our tax system by expanding the sales tax to include some services.
The Senate bill presumes we can’t afford to make all of the investments we need for our children to succeed in school and life – but the truth is we can’t afford not to make these investments. Our collective well-being depends on our children having the opportunities they need to reach their full potential in life.