When one uses the term “corruption” one is likely to think of big states like Texas or Florida or Illinois with all of their bribery and kickback schemes. In this article, we will provide a few examples of why the Washington state legislature may be not only one of the most corrupt legislatures in the nation – but one of the most corrupt legislatures in the history of our nation.
Exhibit #1: The only state legislature in history to repeatedly ignore a Contempt Citation from their State Supreme Court
Both New Jersey and Arizona Supreme Courts found their legislatures had failed to comply with their state constitutions to fund public schools. In both cases, the legislatures acted by actually increasing funding for schools. However, the Washington state legislature has basically told our Washington Supreme Court to “shove it.”
Here are the facts. In September, 2014, for the first time in the history of Washington state, the Washington State Supreme Court held the Washington State legislature in “contempt of court” for failing to comply with our State Constitutional Paramount Duty” to fully fund our public schools. The 2015 legislature responded by adding back nearly one billion dollars in funding they had cut a couple of years earlier. The legislature had the audacity to call restoring these funds an “increase” in school funding. In August, 2015, our Supreme Court was not amused by this false claim and began “fining” the State legislature for failing to fund our public schools. However, the 2016 Washington State legislature has not even been willing to discuss funding public schools. Instead, they have once again decided to kick the can down the road by forming a committee to study the issue – making this the seventh Education Funding committee in the past 20 years! This alone ought to be enough to call the Washington State legislature the most corrupt legislature in history. But there is more. Sadly, there is much more.
Exhibit #2: Despite having one of the strongest economies in the nation, Washington State has among the lowest school funding and highest class sizes in the nation.
In January 2016, Business Insider rated Washington state as having the strongest economy in the nation.
This was mainly because Washington state has a very high per capita income. What the article failed to mention is that most of the income in Washington state goes to a few billionaires. The article also failed to mention that Washington state has among the lowest school funding and highest class sizes in the nation. We will get to the reasons behind this lack of school funding in the next three Exhibits confirming the corruption in Olympia.
Exhibit #3: Washington state has the most unfair state tax system in the nation
A 2015 national study found that while the poor and middle class in Washington state pay on average 12% of more in state taxes, billionaires in Washington state pay only 2% in state taxes. The richer you are in Washington State, the less you pay in taxes:
Exhibit #4: Some claim that the Boeing $9 billion tax break is the largest tax give away in the history of the planet.
Ironically, despite being given $9 billion in no strings attached payoffs, Boeing has continued to ship thousands of jobs out of Washington state.
Exhibit #5: The hidden Microsoft Tax Break is actually bigger than the Boeing Tax break
Time for a quiz question: Where is Microsoft located? Raise your hand if you think they are located in Redmond Washington. Despite making more than $20 billion per year in profits, Microsoft has avoided paying Washington state taxes by claiming that they are located in Reno Nevada.
Washington state has a one percent Business and Occupation tax on gross receipts that Microsoft is dodging. One percent of $100 billion in gross sales is $1 billion per year. Multiple this times the past 10 years and Microsoft owes the children of Washington state at least $10 billion in back taxes. Like Boeing, Microsoft has been laying off people instead of hiring them. So this is a one two punch against both our schools and our economy.
Exhibit #6: Despite giving away billions of dollars every year to billionaires and wealthy multinational corporations, the Washington State legislature cannot seem to find any money to fund our public schools.
It would take more than $3 billion per year in additional funding just to restore school funding and class sizes in Washington state to the national average. This is why the Supreme Court is fining the state legislature. But despite this huge shortfall, and the court order, the 2016 Washington state legislature is not even holding hearings on funding our public schools. Instead, only one bill has been submitted in the Washington state legislature in the past two years that would actually provide the billions of dollars needed to fully fund our public schools. That bill was Senate Bill 6093 by Senators Chase and McAuliffe which would raise about $4 billion per year by repealing a tax break for billionaires. Olympia is so corrupt that this bill has not even gotten a hearing.
Exhibit #7: Washington State legislature ignores a $22 billion school construction backlog
Washington state has one of the highest percentages of “unhoused students” in the nation with more than 10% of all Washington students (more than 100,000 students) forced to spend their school days in unhealthy particle board boxes. Also, over half of all schools in Washington state are more than 50 years old and do not meet health standards or earthquake standards. In the event of a major earthquake, as many as 500,000 students could be killed or injured. Yet, unlike Oregon and British Columbia – which have started to address this problem, the Washington state legislature has refused to do anything to address the school construction backlog. Instead, the legislature has shifted nearly the entire burden for building schools onto the backs of local homeowners through sky high local property taxes.
Exhibit #8: The Washington State legislature has actually passed bills to increase child homelessness and child poverty.
On February 2 2016, Washington State OSPI announced that the number of homeless students in Washington state continues to rise at a rate of 20% per year. For the 2014-2015 school year, more than 35,000 Washington state students did not have a permanent place to sleep at night.
Continuing this 20% rise for the current school year means that the number of homeless students has doubled from about 20,000 to about 40,000 in just 8 short years. Only half of these homeless students manage to graduate from high school. Equally appalling is the dramatic rise in the percentage of students living at or near the poverty level in Washington State. Just 16 years ago, only 30% of Washington students lived near poverty. Today, nearly half of all Washington students live near poverty. This is an increase of 200,000 students living near poverty in our state in just the past 16 years.
Part of the problem of child poverty and homelessness is that their parents do not have jobs (and the legislature has done nothing to create jobs). But the other part of the problem is that the Washington legislature has actually gutted programs designed to train parents so that they can go out and get a good paying job.
Exhibit #9 Washington state legislature guts Working Connections Program
In 2011, while the Washington legislature was approving massive tax breaks for billionaires, Microsoft and Boeing, they were also gutting the Working Connections program. This program provided low income children with child care and a place to live while their parents learned job training skills. The legislature gutted $100 million from this program resulting in about 30,000 families being tossed out onto the streets. Tens of thousands of children lost their only source of income – all so that billionaires could buy bigger boats.
Exhibit #10: Washington State Legislature Refuses to Allow Struggling Low Income Students to have access to a Fair High School Equivalency Test
In January 2014, a for profit corporation called Pearson took over the GED High School Equivalency test and made it so hard that not even college professors or members of our state legislature could pass it. This resulted in the number of students receiving a GED in Washington state falling from a previous average of more than 13,000 graduates per year to less than 3,000 graduates per year.
Because a High School Equivalency Certificate is needed to get a good paying job or go to college, the lack of a fair GED test has destroyed the lives of more than 10,000 students per year or about 200 students per week ever since January 2014. But despite this devastating harm to low income young adults, our State legislature has refused to allow students in our state to have access to either of two fairer options – the HiSET and TASC. Meanwhile 27 other less corrupt states have acted or are in the process of acting to allow their struggling low income students access to a fairer test (see map).
Ironically, failing to offer struggling low income students a fair high school equivalency test will ultimately cost our state hundreds of millions of additional dollars in prison costs and the lack of a high school equivalency certificate increases the chances of a person committing a major crime by about 10 percent. So depriving 10,000 students per year of a High School Equivalency certificate will eventually increase our prison population by about 1,000 inmates per year.
Conclusion… Is the 2016 Washington State Legislature the most corrupt legislature ever?
If forcing one million students to attend over-crowded, unsafe and unhealthy classrooms just so a few billionaires can get bigger tax breaks is not a sign of extreme corruption, then I do not know what is.
The only good news in this report is that 2016 is an election year. I am hoping some parents and teachers will finally say “enough is enough” to the corrupt clowns in Olympia and run for office to replace all of them. As always, I look forward to your questions and comments.
HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!
Standing Against Foreclosure & Eviction
February 5th, 2016
THE 2016 ONE NIGHT COUNT found an increase of 19%
Everyone’s talking about our State of Emergency on Homelessness yet our problem keeps growing. Here are the results from the January 29th One Night Count.
“At least 4,505 men, women, and children were without shelter during the three hour street count. This number is an increase of 19% over those found without shelter last year. This number is always assumed to be an undercount, because we do not count everywhere, and because many people take great care not to be visible.”
Compassionate Voice – Lisa Herbold
It is something of a surprise that our conservative paper, the Seattle Times, ran a great opinion piece from our new council member, Lisa Herbold. She gets to the heart of the problem on affordable housing.
“Seattle faces a serious affordable-housing crisis that is pushing out many long-time residents. The Journal of Urban Affairs found that, on average, an increase of $100 in median rent corresponded to a 15 percent increase in the numbers of people who are homeless.”
SAFE Supports Action against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)
On February 3rd a couple of SAFE members joined the group gathered at City Hall and listened to speakers including Councilmember Mike O’Brien. From City Hall there was a march which then headed down to the federal building to where Maria Cantwell and Sen. Patty Murray have their offices. Both of them are supporters of the TPP agreement which is the modern WTO on steroids. The greatest part of this rally was sending a definite message to our Senators that we will no longer support, and will in fact work actively to replace them, if they continue to come out on the side of corporations.
The Media’s Blame Game-A Tale of Two Shootings
The shooting in the Jungle really highlights how the media creates prejudice in reporting on a story. At the link there is a great article on the finger pointing blame game played by the media as it concerns those who live on the street.
Instead of truly raising concerns on how dangerous is it to live without a home and how to solve our problems, the media generally sensationalizes drug problems and focuses on the coming action that will once and for all clear out the Jungle area leaving the inhabitants even more out in the cold. Here comes the sweep!
It is extremely import how the article notes in the three quotes below, the contrast in how two different shootings which took place in the same week are treated:
“On Wednesday, February 3, two suspects shot and seriously wounded a 22-year-old man on a bus in SoDo”
“The Metro [bus] shooting came only two days after horrifying details emerged in police documents concerning the previous week’s killing of two people and wounding of three others at The Jungle.”
“But after the Metro shooting, nobody demanded that the police seize all possessions being carried by the passengers on the bus. The Seattle Times didn’t run three straight days of front page, above-the-fold stories calling buses dens of drugs, guns, and deaths.”
Water and Human Rights
On February 2nd, SAFE hosted guest speaker and Human Rights activist Martha Schmidt of the National Lawyers Guild. She led us in an extended discussion on the human rights crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Flint is the poster child which illustrates the changing mission of our government. The new (neo) framework and aim of government is to foster a good business environment. No longer does the health and welfare of the citizen matter, only business matters.
Martha started out the discussion by having us define the very root of the problem, Neoliberalism.
The main points of neo-liberalism include:
1.THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.
2.CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
3.DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.
4.PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
5.ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”
Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
It was a great discussion and all participated!
We hope that there will be criminal prosecution of Governor Rick Snyder and Flint’s Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley. Both were supposed to speak to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and on Thursday, Earley was served with a subpoena by the U.S. Marshals Service.
Proof that officials knew the water in Flint was dangerous is found in the state supported shipping of bottled water for consumption by Flint’s city workers.
SAFE continues to endorse petition regarding Flint, MI
So far 591,406 people have signed Michael Moore’s petition that asks US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch to arrest Rick Snyder, the Governor of Michigan, for his complicity in the crime of poisoning the people of Flint. We urge our members and allies to sign it. Please go the link: http://michaelmoore.com/DontSendBottledWater/
Rally for Homeowner Justice
On Tuesday, February 2nd, some members of SAFE went down to Olympia to lobby once again. A group of about 30 people were there in all. Pina, Red, Merle, Jane, etc. were there to bring attention to the injustice of laws supporting criminal banks and their illegal activities in home foreclosures.
This dedicated Housing Justice Lobby group had also gone to Olympia the week before in order to attend a hearing on HOUSE BILL #2876 and they had drafted important changes of wording in the bill which would give homeowners an equal footing at Mediations. Their efforts to change the law were shut down but this group will not be deterred!
Help keep SAFE in the forefront of the fight for social, economic, housing, and environmental justice.
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The People’s Assembly 2016 – How Do We Win Change?
At City Hall – 11:00 am – Saturday, February 27th
Join Councilmember Kshama Sawant and many of Seattle’s best activists and organizers to discuss what to fight for in 2016, and how you can join the struggle to win:
Speakers will include: City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, State Senator Pramila Jayapal, Martin Luther King County Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Grant, Fromer Executive Director of the Tenants Union of Washington State Jon Grant, Climate Activist Sarra Tekola, and many others!
Weekly Solidarity Meeting
SAFE holds our weekly Solidarity Meeting every Tuesday at the Collaboratory, 5623 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98118, at Rainier and Orcas in Hillman City. Our next meeting is Tuesday, February 9th, 2016. A meal is served at 6:30 pm; the meeting starts at 7:00 pm. All are welcome.
WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED!
QUESTIONS & COMMENTS
You can reach us at email@example.com or 206-203-2125
Please visit our website: www.SAFEinSeattle.org
Visit SAFE’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/SAFE-in-Seattle
Rally at City Hall, then march to the Federal Building (5 blocks downhill) to deliver our message, (we might also pay a visit to the Chambers of Commerce).
On February 3, (February 4th in New Zealand), head trade negotiators from 12 countries around the Pacific Rim will gather to sign the biggest corporate trade agreement ever brokered: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). All over the world, from Malaysia to Mexico to Seattle, they will be met with protest.
We are tired of corporate interests stealing our jobs, ruining our environment, and undermining our health and security. Now, the decision rests with US Congress — accept this deal, or reject it and demand fair trade policy?
The Chambers of Commerce announced that they are “rolling up their sleeves” to pass TPP, so we are rolling up our sleeves to fight back. Join us to send a message here in Washington and to the world — TPP = Betrayal.
Join 350 Seattle, WFTC (Washington Fair Trade Coalition) Backbone Campaign and many more coming together as a global uprising to #StoptheTPP!
- February 03, 2016 at 12pm – 1:30pm
- Seattle City Hall Plaza
600 Fourth Ave
Seattle, WA 98104
Google map and directions
- 25 people are going
Well it's pretty clear we need more revenue I can make it make, make it, and turn the nation blue. Cause I gotta message, message the people chase. And all the right policies in all the right places. I hear conservatives calling for liberty. You know their stuff ain't real: corporate hegemony. If that what's you like, vote for Hillary, Cause she's corporate and hawkish from her bottom to her top. Pope Francis he told us to fight against their lies. He says the rich always want more booty to hold at night. You know I won't be no Blue Dog corporate Democrat. So if that's what you're into vote for Hillary the plutocrat. You know it's all about the base and the bucks, class struggle. It's all about the base and the bucks, class struggle. It's all about the base and the bucks, class struggle. It's all about the base and the bucks.