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Fund Education Without New Revenue? That Doesn’t Add Up.

Posted by michaelm at Feb 21, 2013 05:50 PM |

Part three in our series on our new policy brief, A Paramount Duty: Funding Education for McCleary and Beyond.

How to fund education is a hot topic in Olympia right now. Lawmakers need to find billions of dollars to fully fund K-12 education as required by the State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. But they shouldn’t stop there. Investments in health care, economic security, and the entire education system, are deeply connected to kids’ well-being and ability to do well in school.  To invest in education as required by McCleary and close the opportunity gap, we need new revenue.

Deep cuts to all other state services would destroy jobs and hurt families and communities, wiping out any gains the economy may see from a better education system.

The McCleary decision presents an opportunity to start erasing the inequalities that children of color and those from low-income families face. Among the steps lawmakers can take:

  • Make early learning part of the state’s requirement for basic education
  • Invest in services that improve children’s lives
  • Reverse cuts in higher education

To meet McCleary and address the existing shortfall between available resources and public needs, new revenue must be generated. As shown below, an all-cuts approach would be equivalent to cutting all funding for critical investments in higher education, early learning, and economic supports for lower- and moderate-income Washington state families.


There are a range of options policymakers can pursue that would generate additional resources in the near-term, while building a more adequate and equitable revenue system in the future.

A new state excise tax on capital gains could raise over $700 million per year in new resources. Policymakers could also eliminate the onerous I-747 property tax cap, which could generate more than $1 billion per year. Other options, like extending our 1930s-era sales tax to include modern consumer services would also raise significant resources while helping our revenue system better track with our evolving economy.

To learn more about how we can expand opportunity through strengthening education and the revenue options we have on hand, check out our policy brief, A Paramount Duty: Funding Education for McCleary and Beyond.

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