to get familiar with it.
- Mark Twain
One of the most recent examples of legislator fact spinning was provided by Senator Andy Hill, Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee. He began his 2015 Budget Preview with the following quote:
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan, U.S. Senator
revenues to fully finance the next statutorily required McCleary enhancement,
plus a salary increase for K-12 staff.
While Senator Hill’s calculations assume a 3% COLA for K-12 staff, SHB 2776 makes no provision for addressing the fundamental underfunding of educator salaries and benefits. Section 601 (1) of ESHB 2261 makes it very clear that the State needs to address that issue:
access a world-class educational system depends on our continuing ability
to provide students with access to world-class educators. The legislature
also understands that continuing to attract and retain the highest quality
educators will require increased investments. The legislature intends to
enhance the current salary allocation model… (pg. 58)
The absence of that issue in Senator Hill’s statement represents a very selective application of “facts.” In relation to his perspective, here are some additional facts that make the Court’s expectations crystal clear:
Supreme Court Ruling, January 5, 2012
Substantial evidence at trial also showed that the State consistently underfunded
staff salaries and benefits. Testimony revealed that the State allocation for
salaries and benefits fell far short of the actual cost of recruiting and retaining
competent teachers, administrators, and staff. (pg. 64)
Supreme Court Order, July 18, 2012
In deference to ESHB 2261 and its implementation schedule, the court's review
will focus on whether the actions taken by the legislature show real and
measurable progress toward achieving full compliance with article IX,
section 1 by 2018. (pg. 3)
Supreme Court Order, January 9, 2014
Another area in which the State's Report falls short concerns personnel costs.
Quality educators and administrators are the heart of Washington's education
system. The Report … skims over the fact that state funding of educator and
administrative staff salaries remains constitutionally inadequate. Our decision
in this case identified salaries as a significant area of underfunding by
the State… (pg. 5)
The Report identifies this salary cut as part of "savings and reductions in
non-basic education," … but nothing could be more basic than adequate pay.
The inescapable fact is that salaries for educators in Washington are no better
now than when this case went to trial…. It is deeply troubling that the State's
Report does not address this component of ESHB 2261 or offer any plan for
meeting its goals. (pg. 6)
As an elected official, Senator Hill is certainly welcome to his opinions. Given the Court’s statements above, however, it undermines Senator Hill’s credibility to state those opinions as facts that support his notion that no new revenue is needed to address the McCleary decision.