Lead with Vision, Governor Inslee – Transform Rail from Problem to Solution

PETITION: Governor Inslee – Champion a Just Transition to Safer, Sustainable Railroads via Solutionary Rail

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, MosierBombTrainGIFMedSpeed.gif

The June 3, 2016 explosive oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon reminded us that the railroads that run through our communities are being utilized in ways that are endangering public health and safety, polluting our water and air, and ultimately harming our oceans and climate. Current railroad uses also negatively impact agriculture shipments, strand rural communities, delay passenger trains, and displace other higher-value potential for rail. As we have told you before, this does not have to be the case.  We need your leadership to change it.  And we need it now.

Bomb Trains have no place in the railroad industry’s business model nor in the future of safe and sustainable rail transport.  We therefore echo our allies in the call for a moratorium on the shipping of explosive Bakken oil through our communities.  But it is not enough to say “No.” That is why we have worked for three years to craft a vision to which all can proclaim a  resounding  “YES!” 

Solutionary Rail is a proposal that places railroads at the center of a sustainable transport infrastructure redefining the future of US rail.  It charts a path that overcomes the impediments to infrastructure improvement on our privately owned railroads through public-private partnership to finance, build and run a publicly owned electrification and transmission system.  It mandates that this system be fed by distributed renewable energy generation along the route and raises the bar on protecting railroad workers and communities along the tracks.

Solutionary Rail is a catalyst project that creates synergies for positive movement and a broader just transition away from fossil fuel use and transport.
Shipping freight by electrified rail is efficient, requiring approximately 10-25 percent of the energy required to ship by diesel truck.  Rail electrification results in dramatic capacity improvements and track speeds up to 80 and 120 MPH for high-value freight and passengers respectively.  Electrifying corridors unlocks the potential for distributed renewable energy generation and prosperity for rural communities, tribes, and power co-operatives along the route.

Running rail on renewable energy results in near-zero carbon emissions. This addresses trains’ contribution to rural and urban public health problems caused by burning diesel. Rail electrification will nearly eliminate the need for long-haul trucking and therefore reduce that source of emissions as well.  This will make freeways more safe, less burdened by the trucks that cause the most traffic fatalities and exact a disproportionate physical toll on the infrastructure itself.

Solutionary Rail is a key component of a just transition away from the fossil fuel economy. Improvements in speed, service and capacity will draw passengers and freight off deteriorating, overcrowded freeways and clogged airports and back onto the trains and tracks. This increase in capacity combined with establishing regular freight and passenger schedules will improve service and undue a systemic cause of worker fatigue.  No longer living without a schedule, on call 24/7/365 rail workers and communities they travel through will be safer and happier.

Farmers and businesses will be able to confidently rely on rail to ship their crops and products to market in a timely manner. This increase in higher value use will displace railroads’ current business model dependent upon the transport of dirty and dangerous fossil fuel commodities.  It will be replaced by a business model that serves rail companies, their workers, and the communities and regional economies they connect.

Solutionary Rail’s phase I is the route from Salish Sea to the Great Lakes, principally on BNSF’s Northern Transcon.  Successful rail electrification and modernization in the United States must start with a successful demonstration on a major rail line.  The Northern Transcon is a nationally important transport route, crossing diverse weather patterns and regional economies. It offers the perfect opportunity to successfully demonstrate rail electrification’s potential to deliver of renewed vitality for US railroads and economy.

Electrified, higher-speed rail provides the foundation for sustainable jobs and prosperity through improved transportation access and stable long-term costs. By spurring the creation of a Steel Interstate Development Authority to finance electrification with low interest public bonds and building a rail electrification partnership with BNSF and others across the Northern Transcon, you Governor Inslee will be making Washington State a launch pad for the clean energy revolution you have long sought. We implore you Governor Inslee to lead with vision and champion the Solutionary Rail proposal.

SR-Map-Cab-BuildoutGIF.gifHere are the action steps we need you to take Governor Inslee: 

  • Personally Champion the Solutionary Rail vision for a future railroad industry and infrastructure that is no longer dependent upon shipping dirty and dangerous fossil fuel commodities.
  • Create an executive level task force of cabinet and agency leads to work with the Solutionary Rail technical team to study and enhance the proposal and guarantee that its key public benefit components cannot be negotiated away.
  • Convene a leadership summit, drawing in relevant governors, agency and elected officials to adopt an implementations plan for this inter-jurisdictional proposal and a pathway for creating a multi-state Steel Interstate Development Authority able to implement Solutionary Rail’s phase I pilot from the Salish Sea to the Great Lakes.
  • Negotiate a win/win partnership with Northern Transcon railroad owners including BNSF and its owner, Berkshire Hathaway led by Warren Buffett to access all necessary right of ways to build out and maintain the electrification and transmission infrastructure across the Solutionary Rail phase I corridor.
  • Begin the electrification build-out and development of stranded renewable energy assets across Solutionary Rail route, and transition to a duel powered and pure electric locomotive fleet for higher-speed freight and passenger rail to creates new customers and draw old ones off of the roads and back onto the tracks.

So once again Governor Inslee:

We the undersigned call upon you to be the champion we and future generations need you to be. Re-spark your passion for clean renewable solutions articulated in your book Apollo’s Fire.  Protect our land and people from bomb trains and the fossil fuel driven economy. Lead boldly and use your power to get railroads on a track to a future we can all be proud of. 

Champion Backbone Campaign’s Solutionary Rail proposal.

With Respect and Urgency,

Solutionary Rail Team
The Backbone Campaign
& Undersigning Allies

Decoding the Fake Five Billion Increase in School Funding in Washington State

Many in the Washington legislature claim they increased school funding by nearly $5 billion in the past 4 years. If our schools have $5 billion more than they had 4 years ago, then why do our schools have one thousand fewer teachers than we had 4 years ago? In their June 17 2016 court filing, the McCleary plaintiffs claimed that the $5 billion increase in funding was an “illusion” and less than a mere “maintenance level of status quo education funding.” In this report, we will decode the fake $5 billion increase in school funding in Washington state to explain why the McCleary plaintiffs are correct. Don’t be fooled by dishonest legislators. Our schools are facing a funding crisis that is getting worse every year. Our class sizes are among the highest in the nation and getting higher every year. Class sizes are so high that teachers are quitting in droves. Half of our schools do not even have enough qualified math and science teachers. Legislators who claim that they are “making progress on school funding” should be ashamed of themselves. There has been no progress at all in the past 4 years. Please share this important report with parents and teachers.

We will begin with a quote from the State legislature’s latest June 17 2016 filing to the Washington Supreme Court: “The State has made very real and concrete progress since 2012. In attempting to discredit that progress, Plaintiffs wrongly claim that the $4.8 billion increase in education funding between the 2011-13 biennium and the 2015-17 biennium is illusory and is actually less than if the State had merely maintained the “status quo” level of services… The enacted public schools budget for 2015-17 was $18.2 billion. That was an increase from the approximately $15.3 billion for public schools in 2013-15, which had increased from approximately $13.4 billion in the 2011-13 budget.” http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/publicUpload/Supreme%20Court%20News/619aReply_AmResp20160617.pdf

Here is a chart showing biennial (two year) state spending on our public schools since the beginning of the 2007 McCleary Education Funding Case:


It certainly looks like there was nearly a $5 billion increase in state spending on our public schools in the past 4 years. This would be a 36% increase in school funding!

But if there was really a 36% increase in school funding, then why wasn’t there a 36% increase in the number of teachers? Why did the number of teachers go down by one thousand rather than going up by ten thousand? The McCleary Plaintiffs have called this $4.8 billion ($2.4 billion per year) increase in spending an “illusion” because it is less than what would have been spent by a mere “maintenance of service” budget. To understand this, let’s look at a Maintenance of Service budget. A Maintenance of Service budget includes adjusting for the increased cost of living from year to year plus the increase in the number of students. A Maintenance of Service budget would have involved an increase of about 5% per year or 10% per biennium. To keep the math simple, we will assume that 10% is $1.4 billion per biennium (10% of $14 billion).


Thus, a Maintenance of Services budget would have resulted in school funding being nearly one billion dollars greater than the $4.8 billion increase the legislature is bragging about. Here is a chart of the increase in the number of students in Washington State since January 2012 from the OSPI Report Card:


When the actual budget is less than the maintenance budget, school districts are forced to fire teachers and increase class sizes. Here is a chart of the reduction in the number of teachers in Washington state since January 2012 from the OSPI Report Card:


Note that the actual number of real classroom teachers is about 20,000 less than this because many school districts incorrectly report administrators as classroom teachers. We know this because the median actual class size in Washington state is more than 30 students – and getting higher and higher every year. However, because the reporting method has not changed, we can be certain that the actual number of classroom teachers declined by more than one thousand during the four years since the January 2012 Supreme Court ruling. Even in 2012, class sizes in Washington state were among the highest in the nation.

The most accurate estimate of class sizes comes from a national survey of classroom teachers in which teachers are asked how many students are in their average classroom. This survey indicates that for Grades 1 through 6, the national average class size is 21 students and the average class size in Washington state is 24 students. For Grades 7 through 12, the national average class size is 27 students and the average class size in Washington state is 30 students. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_209.30.asp

Here is a distribution of class sizes showing which states have low, average, above average or extremely high class sizes:

However, even this survey of teachers under-reports the actual class sizes in the nation and in Washington state because it includes Special Education teachers who often have classes of under 10 students. Excluding Special Education classes, the typical or median class size in the US is likely close to 29 students and in Washington state, it is likely close to 32 students.

How can Washington have $4.8 billion in additional education funding – a 36% increase – and not hire a single new teacher?
There are several factors that contribute to the “illusion” of increased funding. The first factor is fund transfers from one account to another. An example of this is transferring hundreds of millions of dollars from the school capital budget account to the school operating budget account. This results in the illusion of an increase in school funding. But because real school districts have to fund both operating and repairing schools, increasing operating funds while reducing funds in other areas does not actually result in a real increase in funds.

The second factor is unfunded mandates. For example, the legislature recently mandated that all schools in Washington state use the Common Core standards written by Wall Street consultants rather than the Washington state learning standards written by Washington state teachers. This forced school districts to replace hundreds of millions of dollars of text books with new Common Core aligned text books. The switch to the SBAC test, which requires computers to complete, required school districts to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of new computers and computer programs.

The third factor is the hidden cost of inflation also called the Maintenance of Services budget. Real inflation including the cost of health insurance, food and everything else is much higher than 5% per year. As we have previously shown, an increase of 5% a year would have been nearly one billion dollars higher than the current $18.2 billion per biennium. This is why a more accurate estimate of education funding is the Percent of Income method – which more accurately adjusts for the rising cost of living. Below is school funding in Washington state, as a percent of income compared to the national average. You can see that school funding in Washington state, as a percent of income, has been plunging for the past 20 years.


The Levy Swipe will Rob One Billion dollars from King County Schools… Another Way to Increase State Spending without Hiring Teachers
These are not the end of the legislature’s deceptive tricks. In 2017, the legislature is likely to pass the Levy Swipe – which will rob one billion dollars in local levy funds from King County Schools and transfer it to the State General Fund where it will be used to increase funding for other school districts in the State by one billion dollars per year. This will increase State Spending for schools by $1 billion per year or $2 billion per biennium (to a total of $20 billion per biennium). But it will cause a loss of about 10,000 teachers in King County and an increase of 10,000 teachers in other parts of our state. Note that the total number of teachers statewide will not increase at all. This is the kind of nonsense that passes for “increasing school funding” in Olympia. Meanwhile, the deadline for fully funding our schools is the beginning of the 2017 school year – which is only one year away. McCleary v. State, 173 Wn.2d 477, 483, 269 P.3d 227 (2012)

We Must Change the Debate from Dollars to Class Size Limits
The real issue that students, parents and teachers must focus on is not some fake dollar amount that can be manipulated by our corrupt legislature but actual class sizes.Specifically, are class sizes small enough so that struggling students can get the help they need? Research such as the Tennessee STAR study confirms that actual class sizes must be below 20 students per class. Currently, class sizes in Washington are way too big at over 30 students per class. The problem with extremely high class sizes is that struggling students cannot get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life. Teachers burdened with extremely high class sizes also suffer from burnout – leading to the current shortage of experienced teachers. A June 2016 national study concluded that small class sizes were the single most important strategy for improving student outcomes – especially for improving outcomes among low income and minority students.

Meanwhile students in Washington state are forced to deal with the highest class sizes in the nation – a disaster that can only be changed by REAL increases in State funding for public schools.

Instead of focusing in on dollars – which just leads to corrupt legislators playing a shell game with school funding and fake claims of billions of dollar increases, we should change the focus to lowering average and maximum class sizes to below 20 students per class. 37 states now have laws limiting the average and maximum class size. Thanks to Initiative 1351, Washington is now one of those 37 States. Initiative 1351 limits the maximum class size to 17 students in elementary school and 25 students in secondary school. Even this would be considered a high class size in many developed nations. For example, in Finland, the average class size for both elementary and secondary school is 20 students per class. http://www.oecd.org/edu/skills-beyond-school/48631144.pdf

The problem with Initiative 1351 is that it will cost billions of dollars to implement but did not come with a funding source. The lack of a funding source was the excuse used by the legislature to delay implementation of 1351 for the 2023 school year. But the good news is that this Class Size Limiting law is still on the books.

The Total Cost of Fully Funding Schools is More than $10 billion per year
Tom Ahearne, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the McCleary case, estimates that it will cost at least $8 billion more per biennium, plus an additional $2 billion in capital costs for new K-3 classrooms and all-day kindergarten. But he also thinks the minimum should include two other things: First, cost-of-living increases for school staff. Second, other capital expenses, like renovating school buildings that are falling apart. This would cost several more billion per year. Adding $10 billion per year would more than double state school funding here in Washington state (which is currently $9 billion per year). This may seem like a lot – but the legislature is currently giving away four dollars to wealthy corporations for every one dollar they invest in our schools.


The truth is that the legislature would have plenty of money to fully fund schools and small class sizes, including Initiative 1351, if they did not give away $36 billion per year in tax breaks to wealthy multinational corporations.

It is basic math. We cannot allow our legislature to give away $36 billion per year in tax breaks for wealthy corporations and still have enough money left to fully fund our schools and lower class sizes. This is why in their latest filing to the Supreme Court on June 17 2016, the plaintiffs for the McCleary case specifically asked the Court to declare tax breaks to be unconstitutional. Here is a quote from their brief:

“Plaintiffs continue to believe the most effective options to compel the significant revenue and funding actions needed to comply in that 2017 regular session are the school statute and tax exemption statute options discussed in plaintiffs’ prior filings… have all tax exemption statutes enacted by the legislature (before amply funding K-12 schools) struck down as unconstitutional, effective the first day of the 2017-2018 school year.

Sadly, our corrupt legislature is not about to reduce these tax breaks. Instead, they have continued to increase tax breaks every year – despite a direct order from our Supreme Court to comply with their Paramount Duty to fully fund our schools. It is more likely that the legislature would rather see our schools closed in 2017 than to close tax loopholes for their corporate backers.

Because the legislature will not really reduce tax breaks for the corporations that pay for their elections, the only REAL solution to the school funding crisis is for our Supreme Court to declare these billions in tax breaks to be unconstitutional – which is exactly what the McCleary plaintiffs have done.

But there is a fatal problem with their request to declare all tax exemptions to be unconstitutional. While the Supreme Court has the authority to declare laws (including tax exemptions) to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court may not have the authority to declare what level of funding is constitutional. This brings up the question of what would happen next if the Supreme Court decided to grant the McCleary plaintiffs to relief they are requesting and declared billions of dollars in tax exemptions to be unconstitutional.

Here is what State claimed in their June 17 2016 response to the Plaintiffs brief:
“The Washington Constitution does not confer on Plaintiffs—or on the Superintendent of Public Instruction, for that matter—the authority to, determine the measure of ample funding under article IX, section 1. It is for the Legislature to determine in the first instance what constitutes “ample provision” for the State’s program of basic education.”

It is revolting that our Attorney General would write something so completely wrong. Article 9, Section 1 of our State Constitution does not grant the State legislature the right to determine what constitutes “ample provision” for the education of all children in our state. Instead, Article 9, Section 1 clearly assigns this Paramount Duty to the entire State Government – not merely to the State legislature!

Here is what Article IX, Section 1 of our State Constitution really says:


While other state constitutions made it the duty of the state legislature to fund schools, the Washington Constitution made it the “paramount duty of the State.” Notice that Article 9 Section 1 does not merely refer to the State legislature. It refers to our entire State government – which includes the Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. In other words, it is the Paramount Duty of every branch of State Government to make ample provision for the education of all children.

Also while other state constitutions use the term “make adequate provision”, the Washington State Constitution uses the term “make ample provision.” Clearly ample means more than the term adequate. So if Washington has the strongest duty for school funding in the nation, why are our schools among the lowest funded and most over-crowded in the nation? The legislature does have a specific duty which is described in Article 9, Section 2 of our State Constitution:


The words “shall provide” means that it is the duty of the legislature to provide the funding as required by the State to amply fund our schools. But the legislature is not the only branch of state government. This leaves the question of which branch of state government is given the duty of determining what an ample level of funding would be for our public schools?

This question is clearly answered in Article 3, Section 22 of our State Constitution: “The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall have supervision over all matters pertaining to public schools.”


The term “all matters” means that the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as a separately elected branch of state government shall have supervision over each and every aspect of our public schools – including the matter of what level of funding is required by our schools and whether or not the legislature is complying with their Paramount Duty to provide that level of funding. To make this point abundantly clear, the drafters of our state constitution included the following clause to Article 2, Section 28 prohibiting the legislature from interfering with the management of our public schools:


The drafters of our state constitution stated that they wanted to limit the power of the legislature regarding our public schools because they feared that a corrupt legislature might drive our schools into the ground. This is why they wanted a separately elected Superintendent of Public Instruction to be in charge of all matters regarding our public schools.

This is also why the drafters of our State Constitution wanted an independent Supreme Court also elected directly by the people – to act as a check against a corrupt legislature passing laws that were contrary to the Paramount Duty of our State Constitution. Our Supreme Court clearly has the power to declare any statute to be invalid if that statute makes it impossible for the State to carry out its Paramount Duty of amply funding our public schools.


If we are really going to solve the school funding crisis, voters need to become much more knowledgeable about the number of teachers and actual class sizes here in Washington state. When legislators are under-funding our schools by $10 billion per year, or $20 billion per biennium, then making claims about adding $5 billion per biennium, this is simply one more example of corrupt politicians trying to mislead the public.

We also need to be much more knowledgeable about where the money is really going to that has been diverted away from our public schools. Any politician that talks about any solution other than repealing tax breaks for wealthy corporations is misleading the public. The underlying cause of our school funding crisis is $36 billion per year in tax breaks for wealthy corporations.

Finally, voters need to become much more knowledgeable about our State Constitution. In our next article, we will take a closer look at the exact words used in our State Constitution, what they really mean, who put them there and why they were put there. The key to understanding our State Constitution is that it was written by people who deeply feared that a corrupt legislature would refuse to fund our public schools. So they put several clauses in our State Constitution specifically to take power AWAY from the legislature and put it in the hands of independently elected people with the hope that they would force the legislature to fund our schools. This is exactly where we are today.

As always, we look forward to your questions and comments.

David Spring M. Ed.
Candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Originally published at Spring For Better Schools

Raising wages statewide is a job for We The People

Over the next couple weeks, young people across the region will be graduating with new degrees and high hopes for the future. They are competing for jobs in an economy where the contrast between the the haves and have nots is stark.


The occupations projected to have the most job openings in King County and statewide over the next five years include computer-related and business jobs that usually come with high pay and full benefit packages. But the top ten list also includes positions in fast food, restaurants, retail sales, and office administration, where current wages are barely enough to support a single person, let alone a family, even outside the greater Seattle area.

Not everyone can or should end up a software engineer. We need people working in restaurants, groceries, childcare, health care, and social work, too. And those jobs should not trap tens of thousands of workers and their children in poverty and constant struggle.

By enacting paid sick days and a higher minimum wage, Seattle has started on the right path toward ensuring every job provides a pathway to opportunity and supports a thriving economy. But not every job is in Seattle. Statewide progress on these same policies hasstalled year after year in our divided State Legislature.

The Raise Up Washington campaign is now collecting signatures to qualify Initiative 1433 for the November ballot. I-1433 will raise Washington’s minimum wage from the current $9.47 to $11.00 starting in January 2017, then raise it in three further steps to $13.50 in 2020, with cost of living increases after that. Importantly, it also sets a minimum standard for paid sick leave, assuring that all workers across the state are able to earn at least an hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

For people now working at or near minimum wage in Renton, Southcenter Mall, or Yakima, that means an immediate pay increase of $250 a month, and an increase of $650 in monthly income by 2020. That money will get spent right in local communities. The initiative also means that a million people who don’t have sick leave now – many of them working in restaurants, retail, and other direct service occupations – will have the ability to stay home when sick or with a sick child without losing their paycheck.

We know from studying dozens of minimum wage increases and sick leave laws across the country that these policies succeed in boosting incomes for low wage workers, decreasing employee turnover, and allowing businesses of all sizes to continue to prosper.

Over the past few decades across the U.S., wealth has piled up for the top 1%. The top 10% has also done pretty well, but incomes for most working people have stagnated or even fallen. Here in Washington between 2010 and 2014, during the so-called economic recovery, the annual wages for full-time workers in the middle of the earnings spectrum actually fell by 3% after inflation, according to the Census Bureau. Meanwhile, costs for childcare, college tuition, healthcare, and housing continue to escalate.

Growing economic inequality compounds racial and gender inequities and deepens divisions in our society and democracy. We all lose – with less innovation, economic vibrancy, and cultural richness – when so many are denied the opportunity to reach their full potential and pursue their dreams.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We the people make the rules for our economy. Usually it’s through our votes for President, Congress, Governor, and state Legislature. With the contrasts in ideology and policy positions up and down the ticket so stark, those votes will matter more than ever this fall.

The initiative process also lets us act directly. I-1433 won’t reverse decades of economic policies that have driven growing income inequality, but it’s a step toward making our state economy work better for everyone.

We don’t have to wait until November to act. The Raise Up Washington campaign needs to collect 246,000 valid signatures from registered Washington voters by the beginning of July to qualify for the November ballot.

You can help right now by signing yourself, registering to vote if you haven’t already, and volunteering for the campaign.

Originally published in the South Seattle Emerald.

Quickie: How Long Can Big Money Keep Democrats In The Charter School Camp?

From http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/how-long-can-big-money-keep-democrats-in-the-charter-school-camp/:

For decades, the petroleum industry has stuffed the coffers of candidates in both parties to ensure legislation continues to favor oil consumption, stall alternative energy sources, and ensure lax environmental regulations.

The other source of corporate cash in Democratic politics is much newer: charter schools. …

…the combo of big oil and education reform mustered at least $24 million in donations to back candidates who opposed “Gov. Jerry Brown’s effort to halve motorists’ use of fossil fuels by 2030” and who supported “expanding charter schools.”

Meyerson spotlights a number of races around the state where candidates who benefitted from the big oil-education reform combo defeated more progressive Democrats.

Across the Golden State, reports LA School Report, “Education reformers spent big ahead of California’s primary … The millions paid off with all of the candidates they supported advancing to November’s general election.”

A similar influx of corporate cash is infecting Democratic Party politics in Washington State, with the money coming from astroturf groups such as League of Education Voters, funded by Microsoft, Boeing and other rich people enjoying tax breaks.

The Divided Left revisited

The Divided Left in America is a major problem, and it’s come to fore in the discussions on social media about whether Bernie should run as an independent and about whether Bernie supporters should work within the Democratic Party.

Progressive Democrats are desperately trying to reform the Democratic Party but lack numbers. As a result the corporate Dems win. Greens,Socialists and others further to the left flee the Democratic Party and support candidates like Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and Rocky Anderson. Nationally, these third party candidates win maybe a few percent of the votes and fail to organize effective political organizations. For example, they don’t typically have statewide candidates.

In short, angry Dems flee the Democratic Party, allowing the corporatists and hawks to win. In contrast, angry conservatives take over the GOP and push it further to the right.

In local races, candidates like Kshama Sawant can win a city like Seattle. But statewide (e.g., in the suburbs) they are perceived as too radical by most people. (Bernie Sanders is more of a social democrat than a democratic socialist; he harmed his chances by calling himself a socialist. Noam Chomsky and others agree with this view.)

I understand that working within the Democratic Party is difficult, dirty, unpleasant work. Whoever said the Revolution would be pleasant?

Still, I’m not condemning those people who flee the Democratic Party. I understand why they do it. The leadership is corrupted. This is clear nationally. Statewide, Inslee voted to give $8.7 billion to Boeing, and he allowed the charter schools bill to become law. In my LD (41st) there are many good Dems but the LD allows our legislators to betray us: Tana Senn and Judy Clibborn both voted for Steve Litzow’s (R, 41 LD) charter schools bill, despite the fact that the state Supreme Court ruled charter schools are unconstitutional; despite the fact that McCleary isn’t yet funded; and despite the fact the the state party platform says “We oppose charter schools.” Many (most?) of the 41st LD Dem PCOs are pissed, but the LD leadership treats me like a dangerous outsider. They also disliked my criticisms of Hillary’s hawkishness.

The PDA pursues an inside-outside strategy that allows people to work but within and outside of the Democratic Party. That’s perhaps necessary but it’s not ideal.

Anyway, any ideas for uniting the left? For years I have been promoting the idea of a shared media platform where people post articles and discuss things. Progressives and socialists are supposed to believe in cooperation for the common good. Fact is: people don’t work together too well.

What Washington got for Boeing’s $305 million tax break

Last week Boeing reported that it had skipped out on $305 million in taxes in 2015. Back in 2013, the Legislature enacted a special Boeing exemption from business taxes.

The legislative intent was to keep jobs in Washington. But that was not written into the tax exemption bill. So in spite of, or maybe because of, the tax exemption, Boeing has shed over 10 percent of its workforce since 2012, shifting more than 10,000 jobs out of Washington state.

State Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, has proposed a solution. She introduced legislation to make this tax exemption dependent on actual jobs. Any loss of jobs since December 2013 would decrease the allowable exemption. So Boeing’s tax exemption would have been cut in half now, because in the past three years, more than 5,000 Boeing jobs have been disappeared. It is a small commonsense step forward. But the Legislature refused to take it up.

Perhaps that is because some legislators believe that the tax incentives have proved justified. One legislative leader stated, “We all feel frustration with short-term layoffs,” he said. But taking a “long view,” landing the 777X and the carbon-fiber industry here “is the future of aviation” and “makes that package worthwhile.”

But these are permanent, not short-term, layoffs with Boeing investing in “centers of excellence” around the world. Was it this $305 million tax avoidance that made Boeing decide to build the 777X here? That $305 million was three-tenths of a percent of Boeing’s revenue in 2015, which exceeded $96.1 billion. Boeing spent $6.8 billion just buying back Boeing shares. The tax exemption amounted to 4 percent of this buyback program, which had nothing to do with positioning Boeing in Washington state.

Boeing’s business decision to place the 777X here was based on the factors of production, mainly that the Puget Sound area is host to the world’s best and most concentrated grouping of mechanical, technical and engineering human capital for aerospace production. In other words, we have the educated, trained and skilled workforce and the state is funding a pipeline of trained workers for future aerospace work. That is what interests Boeing.

If they can position work outside of Washington, they will. They have no commitment to our state. That ended when McDonnell Douglas took over Boeing twenty years ago. No longer was Boeing a northwest company with social commitments and production facilities dedicated to Washington state. Instead, it could be a rogue multinational company, and use Washington’s workers and intellectual capital to seed other production in other states and countries.

You might note that other states are giving Boeing tax exemptions as well. South Carolina, for example, gave Boeing $120 million in 2013 to offset Boeing’s expansion costs there. The South Carolina deal was dependent on the creation of 2,000 jobs. The $305 million Boeing saved in 2015 in our state was part of a $8.7 billion 16-year tax exemption deal. And in contrast to South Carolina, the Washington state deal appears to be dependent on job destruction!

How does this $305 million compared to the cost overruns of the 787? Those overruns amounted to $25 billion, or 84 times Boeing’s 2015 tax break. They were the result of Boeing shifting 787 production to other states and other countries. But the workers and managers in those places couldn’t meet the exact specifications needed to create and fly the 787. So production and repair was shipped back to Washington state, where highly trained and skilled workers put the pieces back together again. What was Boeing’s next move? Accelerate production in South Carolina, having the Puget Sound workforce train the South Carolina workforce to build the 787 correctly, and on time. This means that Boeing will slowly drain jobs out of our state, while also receiving a multi-billion dollar tax break over the next eight years.

Legislative consideration is usually a slow and deliberative process, for good reason. Legislators want to be able to consider all the intended and unintended consequences of their law-making. But the Boeing package was pushed through in a special two-day session, called for just that reason and paid for by the taxpayers of our state. All just to give Boeing a gift. What could that $305 million have paid for? Compensation for 4,000 teachers. Or community college tuition for 80,000 students. But instead it went to bulk up the stock buyback for Boeing shareholders. That is a disservice to the citizens of this state.

Originally published at at the Everett Herald

Senator Murray nearly accosted at King County Dem caucus

Marvin Rosete reported on facebook about the King County Democrats’ caucus held at Hazen High School Sunday, May 1:

I am glad Senator Patty Murray left the building safely, until an idiot decided to attempt to bum rush the Senator’s group as she was leaving.

The man in question said he was attacked by Hillary volunteers.

I will say NO.

As one of the people who was in the altercation, I will say that this guy was out of line.

I will say, he was physically blocked by event volunteers as he tried to accost the Senator as she was exiting the building. To us as volunteers, his intentions were unknown as he rushed towards the Senator with no intent of respecting any physical boundaries.

It took myself and two other people to stop the man.

I’m 5’7″ and took minor injury restraining the guy who is close to 6′ and 200+ lbs from chasing down the Senator. The claims himself to be an Army veteran.

I had grab his phone and get it out of his hands to keep from being swatted by it.

If not for the other volunteers pulling the man away, he would’ve gotten to Patty and I would be a pancake on the floor, or worse.

The phone was still recording. And this guy had the nerve to post it.
We now have his name. I hope they find this guy and report him to US Secret Service and Washington State Patrol.

I’m fine with a small scratch and a pulled back muscle.
Thank you to my friend, Caesar Robinson Noel Renggli getting me patched up and making sure I was okay. Thanks to Sharon Mast for getting me the painkiller afterwards.

Although, this person was obviously in Bernie tee-shirt, he is NOT representative of the Bernie Campaign. Just because you have a first amendment right, it doesn’t give you the right to accost a person. For that matter, take a hint. The door is blocked for a reason.

This was a scary day.
It shows that this type of aggressive behavior towards incumbants will only get worse.

Richard Erwin, Chair of the King County Dems said

It was an odd event also because when I barged in behind him to grab him and said “What are you doing?” loudly to distract him, he yelled back “Somebody stole my vote!” Then he decided his phone had been stolen, Marvin gave it back, and the next thing you know, he’s loping away from all of us and out of the opposite end of the gym.

I’m afraid we will have to budget for security next time.

Chad Lupkes (a leader of the Washington State Bernie Sanders supporters) wrote, “I’ve talked to him online in a comment thread. He has apologized. But I will say that I’m very glad I was nowhere near what happened. Because I would not have been as nice as Marvin was”

Gov. Brownback is trying to turn Kansas into Washington State

From Tax cuts for the rich made Kansas broke — so now Republicans move to raise taxes on the poor:

Let’s say you’re the Governor of Kansas. The tax cuts for the rich you pushed through a couple years ago mean you’re in a world of budgetary hurt, and you’re not sure how you’re going to pay for basic expenses like roads and schools this year. What do you do? Repeal tax cuts? Absolutely not. You’re Sam Brownback. You balance your books on the backs of the poor, and cite fiscal prudence as a moral justification.

The Washington Post reports that Republican officials in Kansas are pursuing increases in sales and excise taxes – which have the ultimate effect of making it more expensive to be poor. People who have less money can’t afford to invest money like rich people; poor people have to spend their paychecks just to make it through the week. Consequently, sales taxes – as a matter of policy – proportionally punish people at the lower end of income spectrum.

Resolution to censure these Democrats for undermining public education, contravening the Constitution, and aiding Republicans

WHEREAS Republicans have been trying for years to undermine public education by under-funding it and then blaming teachers and public schools for (poverty-related) low performance by students;

WHEREAS the State Constitution says that public education is the “paramount duty” of state government; that there should be a “general and uniform system of public schools”; and that “the entire revenue … shall be exclusively applied to the support of common schools”;

WHEREAS the state Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary decision that public schools are under-funded and later held the legislature in contempt for refusing to fund education;

WHEREAS the state Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional;

WHEREAS Democrats Judy Clibborn, Steve Hobbs,  Christopher Hurst, Ruth Kagi, Kristine Lytton, Jeff Morris, Mark Mullet, Eric Pettigrew, David Sawyer, Tana Senn, Larry Springer, Pat Sullivan, and Tim Sheldon voted for SB 6194, the charter school bill;

WHEREAS Governor Inslee allowed SB 6194 to become law;

WHEREAS  SB 6194 funds the existing charter schools and authorizes the creation of additional charter schools, even though McCleary is not yet funded; and

WHEREAS, regardless of whether the state Supreme Court rules SB 6194 to be unconstitutional, support by Democrats for SB 6194 legitimizes the notion of charter schools, empowers Republicans to argue that the current Supreme Court justices are too liberal, and moves the needle to the right on the issue of government funding for education;

WHEREAS the state Democratic Party Platform explicitly opposes charter schools;

WHEREAS handing a major bipartisan victory on this issue to Republicans in an election year strengthens their stature, gives them bragging rights, and increases the chances of their receiving funding from pro-charter school forces;

WHEREAS the narrow passage of I-1240 (the charter schools initiative) in 2012 was due to massive funding by the Walton family, Bill Gates, and other wealthy people opposed to public education;

WHEREAS the narrow support by the public for I-1240 is no justification for supporting charter schools, any more than past support by the public for Tim Eyman initiatives is any justification for supporting tax breaks for billionaires;

WHEREAS the charter school vote was contrary to the wishes of major Democratic constituencies, including Labor, teachers, and progressives;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we Democrats censure the behavior of these lawmakers.

by Donald A. Smith, PhD, PCO (41st LD, Bellevue)