Refusal to re-balance taxes hinders schoolkids

It’s day 23 of a second special session in Olympia, since legislators couldn’t agree to a state budget before the end of the regular session. Now they have only 16 days left until the new two-year fiscal term. It will be hard to start that without a budget!


The cause for delay is a disagreement over how to increase funding for the state’s paramount duty: public education. Republicans have proposed increasing property taxes in cities; Democrats have talked about a carbon tax or a capital gains tax. Gov. Jay Inslee suggests a sales tax on goods purchased online. But none of those measure has enough support to pass.

That leaves us with the status quo — which is convenient for avoiding tough political decisions, but atrocious for our kids and schools. The state Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the state was guilty of underfunding education. Two years later, the court found the Legislature in contempt for failing to remedy this constitutional violation. And in 2015 the Court imposed a $100,000 per day fine on the Legislature for their failure to act, which now totals $67.1 million.

The Legislature has already put a plan for fully funding education into law, but they haven’t given themselves the tools to fund it. Unable — or rather, unwilling — to remedy that fundamental problem, some are now trying to pretend it no longer exists. Both parties have touted the improvements to education funding in the last few years. But it’s like having a house with a leaky roof, then patting yourself in the back for putting on a new coat of paint: the reality contrasts with the rhetoric.

In terms of quality, Washington’s K-12 schools lag behind 19 states, according to the Education Week Research Center: Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, Virginia, Illinois, North Dakota, Iowa, Delaware, and Nebraska. Part of those states’ success is their ability to maintain smaller student-teacher ratios: an average of 13 to 14 students per teacher. Washington has the seventh-worst ratio in the nation, at 19 students per teacher.

The only way to fix that is to hire more teachers. And that requires money. What would it take for our state to have class sizes like the states ahead of us? About $1.35 billion a year — but only if we could attract more teachers at current salaries!

Washington teachers are paid about 10 percent less than the national average, so we’re not attracting new talent. A beginning educator now earns only $35,700, even though the Legislature’s own technical working group recommended a starting salary of $54,000 next year. Raising teachers’ salaries to competitive levels would mean $2 billion a year in new public investments.

The Legislature is not even close to reaching those levels of funding. The core problem is that Washington state relies too much on regressive sales and property taxes, which mean poor and middle-class households pay four to seven times more of their income than those at the top. We can’t generate the revenue we need for public education with an upside-down tax system.

There are some options on the table. State law currently allows the very wealthy to accrue profit through stocks and bonds with no contribution to public good. A person pays no state tax when selling high-end financial assets. A capital gains tax — 92 percent of which would be paid by those with incomes over $600,000 a year — would generate about $700 million per year.

It’s nowhere near enough to cover the more than $3 billion we need to truly build a strong K-12 education system. But it’s a step in the right direction.

In the long run, the only realistic way we’re going to ensure educational opportunity is really a right for all children in Washington — and not a privilege for the lucky few — is with broad-based progressive tax reform that reduces taxes on low- and middle-income families, and increases them on the rich.

So far, our legislators have been loath to tax the wealthy. So we are left with this inconvenient truth: The wealthy are protected while the education of our children is undermined. The kids are not all right!

Original: Everett Herald »

What are we getting out of Boeing’s tax breaks?

As a young girl, my daughter had a fear of flying. She overcame this through a thorough study of airplanes and landed on the 737 as her preferred means of transportation in the air. So naturally, she asked for a Boeing T-shirt for a present. It says, “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!”

So let’s talk about Boeing. You might expect that Boeing would treat Everett as the jewel in the crown of its operations. That is certainly what the Boeing management led legislators and the governor to believe when the company demanded first a $3.2 billion tax concession from the state, and then another $8.7 billion.

But what did this recent tax giveaway to Boeing get us? A loss of close to 12,000 jobs, 15% of the total Boeing workforce in our state. That means that the state gave Boeing about $138,000 for every single job they took away!

Boeing just heralded its new 787-10, built in South Carolina. This was the first Boeing jet to make its first flight outside of Puget Sound. The company is forecasting that production of the earlier 787 models may slow down. Where will the planes not be built? Well, naturally, not in Boeing’s old home of Washington. That tax money we gave them? It just finances outsourcing of jobs and investment to other states and countries.

Boeing is spending billions of dollars in South Carolina and not in our state just to stick it to the unionized workers, the machinists and the engineers, in our state. There is no other reason, financial or otherwise, to forsake decades of investment in plant and workers. Remember how all this got started: Boeing took over McDonnell Douglas in 1997, but actually the McDonnell Douglas management took over Boeing. Right away, they went looking for a new Boeing corporate headquarters, not in Seattle.

The guy who oversaw this flight from and fleecing of our state was Harry Stonecipher. He dreamed up outsourcing the 787 to Japan, Italy, South Carolina and other places, which resulted in billions of dollars of cost overruns when the quality of this outsourcing was not good enough to fly safely in the new airplane.

As Jim Albaugh, chief of Commercial Airplanes at Boeing, explained in January 2011, “We spent a lot more money in trying to recover than we ever would have spent if we’d tried to keep the key technologies closer to home.” But Stonecipher was not fired for his mismanagement of Boeing, he was fired for his mismanagement of his personal life after it came out he was having an affair with another Boeing manager.

Washington has not only given billions to Boeing in tax breaks, it has invested in workers’ education to insure a pipeline of skilled employees for Boeing. At Edmonds Community College, the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center teaches manufacturing assembly, electrical assembly, quality assurance, aerospace tooling and aerospace composites. Everett Community College has both the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing and an aviation maintenance technology program. In 2012, the Legislature established the Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Pipeline Advisory Committee.

However, with Boeing’s job drain, we do not need a pipeline. These workers are picked off by companies in other states, with no investment by those states. Recently SPEEA, the Boeing engineers union, sent out a notice to its members about Lockheed Martin holding a Seattle job fair to hire for positions in California and Texas. So now aerospace companies are poaching Boeing workers from our state. These workers have been educated thanks to our public investments in K-12 and higher education to supply Boeing with a skilled workforce. Now Boeing does not need or want these workers.

Boeing is indeed going. There is no reason why the state of Washington must pay them to go. The Legislature should immediately close that $8.7 billion tax loophole, and put that money into education from pre-kindergarten through college. Then we would have workers ready for Washington companies, including aerospace companies, who are committed to our state. Boeing is not one of those.

Originally published a the Everett Herald

Why Dems have a good chance at winning back the state senate in the 45th LD

In the 2016 election, every single precinct in the 41st, 45th, and 48th LDs preferred Hillary Clinton & Tim Kaine over Donald Trump & Michael Pence. (Source: database downloaded from: King County Elections)

[Correction: an earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that every precinct in the 5th LD voted for Hillary & Kaine. In fact, 138 out of 168 precincts went for Hillary & Kaine in the 5th LD.]

In the 45st LD, 48,147 people voted for Hillary & Kaine; 20,824 voted for Trump & Pence: a ratio of 2.3.   The largest precinct ratio (Hillary/Trump) was 6.1; the smallest ratio was 1.1.

Likewise, 43,509 voters (58%) in the 45th LD voted for Jay Inslee; 31,950 went for Bill Bryant.   142 out of 166 precincts in the 45th LD voted for Jay Inslee over Bill Bryant.

For Legislative District 45 Representative Position 1, Democrat Roger Goodman won 42,981 (62%) of 45th LD votes, over 26,491 for Republican Ramiro Valderrama. 160 out of 166 precincts in the 45th LD chose Goodman over Valderrama.

For Legislative District 45 Representative Position 2, Democrat Larry Springer ran unopposed.

These results give hope that the Dems can win the special senate election in the 45th LD, where Democrat Manka Dhingra is aiming to win back control of the state senate from the Republicans, who have promised to spend $5 million to retain the seat.   The election is necessary because the incumbent, Republican Andy Hill, succumbed to  lung cancer in late October, 2016.

In the 41st LD, 50,843 people (72%) voted for Hillary & Kaine; 19,575 voted for Trump & Pence: a ratio of 2.6 favoring the Democrat. The largest precinct ratio (Hillary/Trump) was 5.5; the smallest ratio was 1.3.

In the 48th LD, results were even more lopsided. 42,860 (73%) voters chose Hillary & Kaine; 15,727 chose Trump & Pence. Every precinct went for Hillary & Kaine.

Even in the 5th LD (further east), 41,955 voters (60%) chose Hillary & Kaine, while only 28,450 chose Trump & Pence.  138 out of 168 precincts voted for Hillary.

Below are the ratios of Hillary & Kaine votes to Trump & Pence votes in all LDs in King County. Only in the 31st LD, in south-eastern King County, did Trump & Pence beat Hillary & Kaine.

| LEG  | Hillary & Kaine    | Trump & Pence      |   Ratio  |
|    0 |                 30 |                  9 |   3.3333 |
|    1 |             656524 |             263428 |   2.4922 |
|    5 |            7048440 |            4779600 |   1.4747 |
|   11 |            5311893 |            1992330 |   2.6662 |
|   30 |            3853512 |            2385330 |   1.6155 |
|   31 |             454116 |             485992 |   0.9344 | 
|   32 |            3142264 |             703840 |   4.4645 |
|   33 |            4647924 |            2047461 |   2.2701 |
|   34 |           13073159 |            2448853 |   5.3385 |
|   36 |           19877948 |            2132560 |   9.3212 |
|   37 |           10382058 |             969006 |  10.7141 |
|   39 |                286 |                186 |   1.5376 |
|   41 |            9711013 |            3738825 |   2.5973 |
|   43 |           16702844 |            1122116 |  14.8851 |
|   45 |            7992402 |            3456784 |   2.3121 |
|   46 |           14989462 |            2272650 |   6.5956 |
|   47 |            4250544 |            2993088 |   1.4201 |
|   48 |            7457640 |            2736498 |   2.7252 |

Furthermore, 41st LD voters ousted Republican Steve Litzow from the state senate, replacing him with Democrat Lisa Wellman. During the campaign, Litzow even sent out a mailing to constituents announcing his opposition to Trump.  The other state legislators from the 41st LD are Democrats too, and women:  Judy Clibborn in the senate, and Tana Senn in the house.

The 45th LD senate election will be interesting, not only because of its political importance and expense, but also because both Dhingra and her Republican opponent, Jinyoung Lee Englund, are of Asian descent and are female.  With substantial Asian populations on the eastside, it is unclear what effect, if any, their ethnicity will have on the election outcome.

“The election won’t necessarily change the balance of power in the state for the long run: The winner of the special election will only serve out what would have been the last year of Hill’s term, and will have to fight to keep the seat in 2018.” (The real fight for control of the state lies ahead )

Please don’t take these results as reason for complacency.   Dems and allies need to work hard to win back the seat.

Bipartisan attack on ST3 funding threatens light-rail extensions

(April 20, 2017) — The Legislature is wrapped up in discussions about how to fund (or not fund) K-12 education. But if you look under the covers, you will see that these very same elected representatives and senators are intent on defunding Sound Transit 3. Instead of simply abiding by the voters’ approval of the tax increases necessary to fund mass transit in the Puget Sound area, they are engaging in a bipartisan attack on the election results.

Last November, we approved Sound Transit 3, with more than 54 percent support for the taxes necessary to build out our light rail system. To finance this, voters ratified Sound Transit’s financing plan, which increases property taxes by $25 per $100,000 in assessed value, hikes sales taxes by one half of one percent, and increases annual car-tab fees by about $80 for a vehicle valued at $10,000.

That money will enable Sound Transit to complete a 108-mile light rail network from Everett to Tacoma. By 2040, Sound Transit and its regional transit partners, including Community Transit, will carry more than 200 million passengers, with seven out of 10 trips made by rail, most of those by light rail. That is the key, because light rail is dependable, doesn’t get stuck in traffic, and takes you to where you want to go, or at least close by!

During the campaign, Sound Transit was completely transparent about the taxes. We all knew that our car tabs would increase a lot in 2017 to help fund Sound Transit. So when the first invoices arrived, the vast majority of people just paid their tabs. But a vocal minority, with big tabs from expensive cars, took their displeasure to Olympia, hoping that the Legislature would listen to their stories and disregard the will of the people.

Now we have a bipartisan attack on Sound Transit, with both Republicans and Democrats offering proposals for defunding.  The Republicans in the Senate are straightforward. One bill, sponsored by Sen. Dino Rossi (R-Sammamish), would allow cities and counties to opt out of all Sound Transit taxes. With this one bill, the Republicans enable any city to pull itself out of Sound Transit, regardless of how its citizens benefit. Free rides for all! This bill also appears to be a moneymaker for Tim Eyman, as it enables local initiatives to void all taxes paying for Sound Transit.

In this context, the Democrats’ proposal in the House of Representatives doesn’t look so bad. But it is not good. It, too, undermines the vote of the people last year and the financing necessary for building out Sound Transit.  Twenty Democrats in the House of Representatives endorsed the Sound Transit 3 ballot initiative. Now they are proposing to lower car tabs for motorists who have bought cars recently, and especially for those who have bought the most expensive cars. This is what is considered “providing fair tax relief for motorists.”

Do Democrats think they can win votes from the complainers who do not want to pay their car tabs for Sound Transit? The Democratic proposal does not roll back car tabs to where they were last year. So if you are going to complain, you will complain about your car tab increase whether it is $100 or $200 or $300.

One owner stated that he was billed three times as much as what he paid last year. His total bill was $406. Under the Democrats’ bill, it will be around $275. He won’t like that either.

But let’s stick with the law as approved by the voters. $406 sounds like a lot. Now consider his vehicle: a 2010 Range Rover, with a sticker price of more than $76,000. If he can afford a car that is valued at twice the total annual earnings of typical workers in our state, then he can afford his car tabs. They cost him $1.11 a day.

Under the Democrats’ bill, if passed, car tabs for this fellow would be 75 cents a day. He would save 36 cents a day and Sound Transit would lose 36 cents a day. That’s not much, but you add together all these reductions, and Sound Transit loses $780 million in car tab fees. This will result in a total loss of $2 billion over 25 years, a loss of 4 percent of the total budget for Sound Transit 3, worth about four miles of light rail track.

Perhaps the light rail to Everett would end at Paine Field. You could take a taxi to downtown!


Originally published at The Stand.

Tax breaks for Boeing have helped send jobs out of state

Here’s a headline that should make us happy: “Trump, Battered in Washington, Is Buoyed at Boeing Rally.” That was from the New York Times, last Friday.

But the funny thing is, there was no Boeing rally in our state, where the vast majority of Boeing workers live and work, making the vast majority of Boeing’s airplanes. And it wasn’t “fake news.” Trump just decamped to Charleston, South Carolina, to have a love fest with Boeing management. Those are the same people who funded and masterminded an all-out multi-million-dollar anti-union campaign to blackmail workers in South Carolina not to join the Machinists union.

The backdrop for this love fest between the billionaire and the mere millionaires of Boeing’s management was the latest new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner in production in South Carolina. South Carolina wasn’t even called out in Boeing’s employment statistics in 2012. Now it is touted as the jewel in the crown. Is something wrong with this picture? A lot of things.

How did Boeing get all the billions of dollars to invest in South Carolina? Well, it could be seen as a direct transfer of tax money from our state, to Boeing, to South Carolina. Just in 2014 and 2015, Boeing got more than $521 million in tax breaks from the state of Washington. Did that go to ramping up Boeing employment in our state? No, employment has actually fallen, from 87,000 in October 2012 to 71,000 now. That is a loss of 16,000 jobs, or almost 1 out of 5 jobs disappeared.

Adding up the tax exemptions that Boeing rammed through the Legislature in 2003 ($3.2 billion) and 2013 ($8.7 billion) and even a top executive can figure out that’s how to invest in South Carolina. Which Boeing has done, to the tune of at least $2 billion, so far. These tax breaks have also enabled Boeing to pay over $41 million in fines in 2014 and 2015 for falsifying claims for the maintenance of military aircraft. No skin off Boeing’s profits!

Why is Boeing so anxious to rob the state of Washington and starve education funding, with these tax breaks? Is it because the workers in Washington, organized together in the Machinists Union and SPEEA, saved Boeing from its disastrous outsourcing of initial production of the 787 to other state, countries and companies? Is it because the 737 plant is going full-tilt as Boeing’s cash cow in Renton? Is it because we have the biggest concentration of aerospace-related production, manufacturing, and brain power in the world right here. Is it because the state of Washington has invested in community college workforce training and degrees tailored specifically to “supply” skilled workers for Boeing?

OK, so none of these reasons makes sense. How about this one: Washington workers are organized into unions at Boeing. Because of this, they don’t have to forfeit their constitutional rights when they walk into the plant. They get some respect from the company. They have some power to negotiate with the company to determine their wages and benefits. They cannot be fired at the arbitrary whim of a supervisor. They cannot be fired by Donald Trump, like he loved to do on “The Apprentice.”

Are there ways to stop the hemorrhaging of Boeing jobs from our state? Last year, state Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, proposed a simple equation: Boeing, if you want your tax break, you keep jobs in Washington; if you reduce employment by 5,000 jobs or more, you lose your tax break and that money goes into education funding.

Really, what do we have to lose? Our state is just getting played by Boeing. We give Boeing tax breaks, they invest in other states and countries. We don’t, and Boeing invests in other states and countries, but they will have less money to do so. And of course, whenever these Boeing off-sites like the joint Boeing-Russian operation for titanium machining in the Ural Mountains of Russia, or the Charleston, South Carolina, site for the 787-E or the Boeing technology center in Moscow, whenever any one of them fail the exact quality assurance we all need for aircraft, Boeing will always fall back on the workers, the machinists, the engineers and the aerospace infrastructure of Washington state. So rather than encouraging Boeing to go, let’s just tell them they should stay!

Originally published at

2017 Public Bank Bill Gets a Hearing in Olympia on Feb 7. Why public banks save money.

The bill to establish a public bank, Senate bill 5464, is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions on Tuesday, February 7 2017 at 8:00 am in Olympia. Here is a link to this bill:

If you cannot attend this hearing, here is a link to submit comments in favor of this bill:


The bill to establish a public bank, Senate bill 5464, is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions on Tuesday, February 7 2017 at 8:00 am in Olympia. Here is a link to this bill:

If you cannot attend this hearing, here is a link to submit comments in favor of this bill:

Email us if you need a ride to Olympia

David Spring M. Ed.
Washington Public Bank Coalition

What is a Public Bank?

A public bank is a bank that is established to operate for the public good rather than for private profit. There are many public banks in nations around the world. In particular, public banks were responsible for the restoration of economic prosperity in Germany after the devastation of World War Two.


All 50 states, except North Dakota deal with private wall street banking system that works like this:


How our current system works:

1) We pay our taxes / fees and they go to the state government.

2) The state government invests our money in private “Too big to fail” banks.

3) The banks speculates with our money in the stock market and in derivatives, financial gambling instruments, which were part of the cause of the 2008 crisis)

4) The banks profit from our money.

5) We get a modest return.

6) And equally important, because our government doesn’t take in enough revenue to pay for infrastructure (like roads and school construction) the city, county and state governments have to issue bonds and we end up paying huge amounts of interest and fees (debt service) to both the banks who write the bond deals and to bond holders.

Read more: What is a Public Bank?

Welcome to the Washington Public Bank Coalition

Welcome to the Washington Public Bank Coalition! Our goal is to provide you with information on the benefits of creating a public bank to finance public projects, such as public public schools, rather than financing public projects through private Wall Street mega banks. The safety of one million school children in our state depends on replacing one thousand crumbling school buildings. The best and least expensive way to build these urgently needed schools is by creating a public bank. Our hope that you will join with us to support the establishment of a public bank here in Washington state so that we can begin to build these urgently needed schools – financed entirely by repealing tax breaks for billionaires – and without placing additional financial burdens on local homeowners.

What is a Public Bank?
A public bank is a bank that is established to operate for the public good rather than for private profit. There are many public banks in nations around the world. In particular, public banks were responsible for the restoration of economic prosperity in Germany after the devastation of World War Two.

Due to the corrupting influence of greedy Wall Street banks, the only public bank in the United States is the Bank of North Dakota – which was established by conservative farmers in North Dakota to free their state from the economic control of powerful East Coast Bankers. Despite many attempts by Wall Street bankers to kill the Bank of North Dakota, it has thrives and allowed North Dakota to be free of the debt slavery imposed by Too Big to Fail banks. Each year, the Bank of North Dakota returns millions of dollars in profits to the people of North Dakota – in addition to providing low cost loans for the building of public schools and public roads in North Dakota.


Best of all, the Bank of North Dakota is the safest bank in America. It does not engage in risky “credit default” speculation and it has the highest ratio of assets to liabilities of any bank in America.


Why do we need a Public Bank in Washington State?
We have gone for more than 100 years in Washington state ever since we were granted Statehood in 1889 without a public bank. So why do we need a public bank now? The answer is that our state is facing economic problems which are greater than any time in our history. Over half of public schools are more than 50 years old. They do not meet earthquake codes or health codes. They are so unsafe that they place the lives of 500,000 students at risk should a major quake occur while the children are at school. It would take more than $30 billion to replace all of these crumbing schools. We also have a $20 billion road construction and repair backlog. Half of our bridges are also more than 50 years old and would collapse in the event of a major earthquake. We are already paying more than $2 billion per year just in interest payments to Wall Street banks from past loans. We as a State simply cannot afford to continue squandering billions of dollars every year to payments to greedy Wall Street bankers when a public bank would allow us to build public schools and roads with no interest charges. Below are just a few of many benefits of creating our own public bank.

First, we could build schools and roads for half the cost – or build twice as many schools and roads! The concentration of wealthy and power in the hands of Wall Street banks is greater now than at any time in our nation’s history. The difference in cost between what Wall Street banks are able to get from the federal government versus what they charge states is the highest in history. Wall street banks get money at near zero percent interest and charge our State, cities and School Districts 4 to 5 percent interest – even though no city or school district in our state has ever defaulted on a loan. The prices were are being charged in interest by Wall Street banks amounts to robbery. The only reason they get away with it is that the big banks are a monopoly.

A public bank would allow us to build public schools and public roads without being fleeced by the private Wall Street banking monopoly. Currently almost half the cost of all public schools and roads goes simply to pay off the bonds of the Wall Street banks. If we loaned the money to ourselves, we could eliminate these greedy bankers and return the money to the tax payers by lowering the cost of public projects. Alternately, we could build twice as many public projects with the same amount of money.


Second, we could lower local property taxes. Because our state is at the debt limit, the state school construction matching funds have fallen from 67% of the actual cost of building schools in the 1980s to less than 10% of the actual cost of building schools today. As a consequence of the state failure to help build schools, local homeowners have been forced to pick up the difference through skyrocketing local property taxes in order to pay off the Wall Street banks in a vicious cycle of debt induced slavery. If we had a public bank, there would be no need to increase local property taxes – in fact, we could cut local property taxes in half. Eventually, we would become like North Dakota which has virtually no debt and therefore has very low taxes.

Third, starting a public bank would allow us to create more than one hundred thousand new good paying jobs – building the schools our kids need and the roads that the rest of us need to get to and from work.


Fourth, we could reduce our dependence on greedy corrupt Wall Street banks.
The reason Wall Street banks were given billions of dollars in bailouts in the past few years is because we do not have a public banking system to fail back on when private for profit banks go broke. Starting a public banking system will allow our economy to grow even if the greedy Wall Street banks gamble away all of their profits and go broke. It is much safer to invest our tax dollars right here in Washington state helping build our local schools and roads than to hand our money over to Wall Street bankers who will gamble it away in a reckless drive to maximize profits.


Put Our Tax Dollars to Work for Us – Interest earned from investments made by a Public Bank would be returned to the State’s general fund and put to work right here in Washington. The North Dakota State Bank returned over $300 million dollars to the State in the last decade. With our larger population, a Washington State Bank could generate even more revenue, stabilize our economy, and avoid tax increases.


Do you know where your Washington State tax dollars go?
When you go to the drugstore to buy some aspirin for the headache you got watching too many false and misleading ads on TV, the store adds 9.5% of the price to your bill. That money is collected and used by the State of Washington to pay for schools and social services. But before the state uses the funds for their intended purpose, did you know that all of those billions of dollars go into an account at Bank of America? This basically billions of dollars of free money that Bank of America uses to increase their corporate profits. This is the same Bank of America that is now considered “Too Big to Fail” and that you and I paid billions of tax payer dollars to bail out when they recklessly gambled with depositors’ money and lost it on speculation in financial schemes such as collateralized debt obligations and mortgage-backed securities.


This is the same ruthless Bank of America that is now foreclosing on tens of thousands of Washington State residents, all the while skirting its obligation to re-negotiate underwater home loans in good faith and using “robosigners” to pretend to hold notes that were sliced diced and discarded years ago. A Washington State Public Bank would allow us to keep our state tax dollars out of the hands of these greedy, lawless Wall Street bankers.


The Cause of our Economic Crisis is the Private Mega Bank Monopoly
Clearly, our current financial systems, nationwide and in Washington State, aren’t working. The gap between the rich and poor is growing; worker lay-offs and state deficits are increasing, and many, many people need jobs. Our current banking system is directly connected to big banks. On August 31, 2010, Washington State had 67.8% of its current deposits of $5.4 billion dollars in nine private banks that are headquartered outside the Northwest. Most of our tax money is deposited in the Bank of America. These private banks are in business to make profits for their owners and their shareholders. These 9 banks directly benefit from holding Washington’s state revenue on their balance sheets. They are able to leverage that money (multiply it many times) to create new loans, including out of state loans and to invest that money on Wall Street.

Our State’s tax payers pay interest to Wall Street Bankers in at least three ways.

First, we pay about one billion dollars per year from the State General Fund to cover the interest on loans from State public projects. Second, we pay more than one billion dollars in interest on public projects funded through local governments like cities and counties. Third, we pay more than one billion dollars in interest and principle payments for local school district school construction bonds. The total bond payments, for all three bond sources for public projects by all tax payers in Washington State, exceed $3 billion per year. By contrast, thanks to having their own public bank, the State of North Dakota has no bond payments and has no budget shortfall.

Currently, taxpayers in our State pay about 5% interest on these $3 billion in bonds to Wall Street Bankers. This is an unreasonably high interest rate given that Wall Street banks are able to get the funds to finance the bonds from the Federal Reserve for near zero interest rates. If we financed our own public bonds, we could likely cut the interest rate in half, saving our State’s tax payers more than one billion dollars per year in interest payments on bonds – simply by eliminating the Wall Street middle men.

The Solution to our State’s Economic Problems is to Start Our Own Public Bank
Instead of banking on Wall Street, Washington State needs to bank on Main Street. The answer lies in Public Banking. Simply put, Public Banks put state tax revenue, investments and assets to work on Main Street, not on Wall Street.

Click on the other pages on our website to learn more about the drawbacks of continuing to borrow money from Wall Street banks and the benefits of creating our own public bank.


Then click on the Join Now button to join with us in creating a public bank here for Washington State! Together with the help of a public bank, we can restore economic prosperity here for everyone.


Why a public bank would save money

Passed by the Washington State Progressive Caucus:

WHEREAS, the taxpayers of Washington state have demanded greater accountability and wiser use of the taxes they pay to benefit Washingtonians, not Wall Street; and

WHEREAS, a state bank owned by and for the people of Washington State would meet those demands by using taxpayer dollars to invest in infrastructure, student loans, create jobs, increase access to capital for small businesses by supporting local community banks, absorb debt capacity, generate revenue, avert long term debt payments to Wall Street, and keep taxpayers dollars in Washington state; and

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 5464 – Creating the Washington Investment Trust (2017) would streamline and create efficiencies of the State’s numerous existing revolving loan programs and leverage their capacity to work for the people of Washington State while lowering overhead and exercising efficiencies of scale, paying it’s own operating costs, and returning profits back to the state; and

WHEREAS, recent Washington State legislative sessions have exposed a serious lack of resource and bonding capacity to deal with the state’s overwhelming capital needs; and

WHEREAS, a state bank can grow in capacity to be an unparalleled resource for future generations of Washingtonians; and

WHEREAS, a successful model of public banking is the Bank of North Dakota, which was first established in 1919 and is controlled by the people for the benefit of the people and economy of North Dakota; and

WHEREAS, public banking is a bedrock of social development in most high achieving global economies like Germany, Japan, Brazil, Russia, India and China; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the Washington State Progressive Caucus endorses creation of a publicly owned State Bank, which shall be governed by an independent public Commission that is accountable and transparent to the people; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that Washington State Progressive Caucus should work with others to convene a study group to examine the possibility of sponsoring an initiative of the people for the 2016 general election for the purpose of creating a publicly owned state bank; and, be it finally

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the Governor, House and Senate leadership, and other civic minded stakeholders for further dissemination to, and education of, the general public.

Ten Reasons Parents & Teachers Should Oppose the Republican School Plan

On January 27 2017, Washington State Republicans released their Education Funding Plan which they claim will comply with the Washington Supreme Court McCleary Decision requiring the legislature to comply with our State Constitution by fully fund our public schools. While Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal has commended the plan, in this article, we will provide ten reasons all parents and teachers, regardless of their political party, should oppose the Republican Education Plan.

Note: Washington Democrats have not released their Education Funding plan yet. They claim it will be released in a few days. We have reason to believe the Democrats Plan will not be much better than the Republican Plan. We will write a critique of the Democrats Plan when it is released. But for now, we will simply focus on the problems with the Republican Plan. The Republican Plan, which they call the Education Equality Act, is not yet in bill form. Here is a link to a 10 page summary of the Republicans Plan in case you want to read it yourself:

Here is a link to their slideshow about their plan:

Here is a quote from their plan claiming that it will help our schools, when in fact, if it passes, it will severely harm our schools: “Our proposal provides ample, dependable and equitable funding for all Washington students.”

Here is a link and quote from Superintendent Reykdal commending the Republican Plan.

“The proposal shows that Republicans are serious about solving the funding problem and that it understands additional resources will be needed. The proposal itself is very comprehensive. It would create a guaranteed funding level for each and every student. .. That funding level would be paid for, in part, by a state property tax capped at $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed value. I appreciate the emphasis on accountability and on providing additional support for underachieving students… I also appreciate the emphasis on teacher recruitment and retention… In the coming weeks and months we will work with the House and Senate to create a bipartisan solution that improves student achievement, empowers educators and maximizes local control.”

The Washington Education Association a more critical view of the plan.

Here is what the WEA had to say about the Republican Plan

“Though it purports to add funding, take a look at what it really does:
Cuts pay for many teachers…
Slashes special ed funding by prohibiting use of local funds for special ed.
Freezes funding for small rural districts.
Increases class size… by eliminating I-1351.
Lowers teaching requirements, allowing anyone to teach as long as they pass a basic background test. No teaching certificates would be required.
Expands the number of charter schools.
Privatizes public education.
Severely limits collective bargaining, the right to strike and due process.
It goes without saying that WEA adamantly opposes this proposal.”


A Review of Crimes Already Committed by the leaders of Both Major Political Parties Against Our Kids
Before we get into the serious flaws of the Republican Plan, which are way more serious than any of the above comments by the WEA would indicate, let’s first review the crimes already committed against our kids by the Washington State Legislature. Note that a “crime” is a serious voilation of the law. A lot of people do not understand this, but our State Constitution is not just a series of suggestions, it is the highest law in Washington State. So violating our state constitution is actually committing a crime. The Washington State Constitution has the strongest school funding language of any constitution in the nation. Here is just a couple of quotes for those who may not have read it.

Article 9.1: Unlike other states, which made it the duty of the legislature to adequately fund our schools, the drafters of our State Constitution created a shared Paramount Duty – a duty applied to the entire State Government including the Supreme Court – when they wrote Article 9, Section 1: “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.”


Paramount means the highest and most important duty.

Article 9.2: The first sentence in Article 9, Section 2 of our state constitution states:
“The legislature shall provide for a general and uniform system of public schools.”


This sentence means that the legislature must provide the funds for a uniform system of public schools. Our state constitution specifically prohibits a system of rich schools that can pass local levies and poor schools that cannot pass a local levy. It also prohibits a two-tier system of public schools in which some kids get a qualified teacher while other schools get a babysitter or no teacher at all. Uniform means that all kids are treated about the same and have the same right to a real education. These are the two laws that led to the McCleary lawsuit and the two laws that our Supreme Court have been trying – without much success – to get the State legislature to comply with.

Here are ten reasons parents & teachers should oppose the Republican Plan:

#1: The Republican Plan fails to even mention the real problem which is skyrocketing tax breaks for the rich.
The real problem – which neither party in Olympia is willing to discuss much less address – is that tax breaks for the rich get higher every year. Our currupt legislature currently gives away four dollars in tax breaks for the rich for every dollar we invest in our public schools.

Spending $40 billion per year on tax breaks for the rich leaves nothing left to fund our schools:

This is despite the fact that tax breaks for wealthy corporations are specifically prohibited by our state constitution.


Because of these illegal tax breaks for the rich, robbing billions of dollars from our schools every year, our schools are in a state of crisis. Our students are currently forced to deal with among the highest class siizes in the nation as a result of the fact that our state has among the lowest school funding in the nation as a percent of income (which is the most accurate way to measure school funding).

#2 The Republican Plan is based on lies such as the claim that the legislature has already added “billions of dollars in funding for schools.”
Legislators falsely claim that they have provided “billions of dollars” in additional school funding in the past 4 years. This is a lie. In fact, they simply moved money around from one account to another. If the legislature actually had increased funding for our schools, we would have more teachers. In fact, while the number of students has risen by nearly 100,000 in the past six years, the number of teachers has declined by over one thousand – meaning that class sizes are rising rapidly. How can Washington have billions of dollars in additional education funding – as claimed by our legislature and not hire a single new teacher?


#3 The Republican Plan would repeal Initiative 1351 (the Class Size Initiative) thus increasing rather than reducing class sizes.
Our schools have among the highest class sizes in the nation. Here is a distribution of class sizes showing which states have low, average, above average or extremely high class sizes:

For Grades 1 through 6, the national average class size is 21 students while 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.

High class sizes mean that struggling students do not get the help they need while our teachers are faced with the impossible task of training to instruct too many students.


Initiative 1351 would lower class sizes in Washington state down to about the national average. This would require hiring more than 10,000 teachers and building hundreds of urgently needed schools. Because legislators would rather keep giving away billions of dollars in tax breaks to the rich every year, they want to repeal Initiative 1351.

#4 The Republican Plan fails to even mention our school construction crisis
Half of our schools do not meet the health code standards or the earthquake standards. Half of our schools have water damage (which leads to mold and other toxins). Half have poor air quality. Thirty percent of our schools are estimated to have excessive lead in the water (which causes brain damage in children). Think Flint Michigan on a massive scale. Most of these problems are related to older schools. Half of our schools are more than 50 years old.


The legislature only provides about $300 per student for school construction – when what is actually needed is 10 times this amount – or $3,000 per student. As a consequence of the legislature’s gross negligence in failing to pay for school construction and repair, the school construction backlog in our state has risen to more than $24 billion.


It is likely that the Democrats plan will also fail to address our school construction backlog (because the Democrats also want to protect billions in tax breaks for the rich). Thus, the school construction crisis will continue to get worse every year as our kids are forced to spend their school days in unsafe, unhealthy classrooms that make them and their teachers sick.

#5 The Republican Plan claims to increase school funding while reducing property taxes. In fact, it reduces school funding while increasing local property taxes.

The Washington Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled over the past 40 years that local levies are unconstitutional because they result in a two-tier system of rich schools that can pass a local levy versus poor schools that cannot. Local Levies are also not a “reliable” source of revenue. Thus, local levies violate Sections 9.1 and 9.2 of the Washington State Constitution. Yet, despite this fact, by starving schools of the funds they need to operate, the State legislature has forced school districts to raise more than $2 billion per year in local levy funds – double what it was 20 years ago – just to keep their doors open.

The Republican Plan correctly repeals all local levies for funding basic education. This eliminates $2 billion per year in local funding. But the Republican Plan then only increases State Funding through the new “Local Levy” by $1.4 billion – guting over half a billion dollars from school funding!

The Devil is in the Details: According to the Republican Plan, the local levy would change to “$1.80 per thousand dollars of assessed value.” They admit that the average local levy is currently $2.54 per thousand. They then claim that this reduction in property taxes would result in an increase in school funding. Some Democrats have called this a “shell game.” but it is worse than a shell game. It is a con game because instead of merely transferring money around this plan actually reduces TOTAL school funding.

Here is the language from their proposal: “The local effort levy is a permanent property tax levy levied on behalf of school districts by the state. It is not an excess levy. The local effort levy tax rate cannot exceed $1.80 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The tax rate may be phased down to a rate not lesser than $1.25 per thousand dollars of assessed value.”

If the rate were phased down to $1.25 per thousand, then the amount gutted from school funding would exceed one billion dollars per year – meaning the firing of more than 10,000 teachers!

How can they claim they are increasing school funding when they are actually decreasing school funding by up to one billion dollars per year?

Here is the next sentence in their proposal (read it slowly. It may take several readings to understand what it is really saying):

“The state backfills the amount necessary to reach the basic per pupil guaranteed funding level after applying the local effort levy but also establishes a minimum amount to be provided by the state.”

Put in plain English, the legislature would be required to “make up” the net loss of one billion dollars in local levy funds by gutting funding for other programs. Where will this additional billion dollars per year come from? There is only one “descretionary” item left in the State budget that is this large – it is the one billion per year our state invests in higher education. So the Republican plan not only fails to restore public school funding – it would also require eliminating nearly all state funding for higher education (which is currently about one billion dollars per year).

How the Republican Plan increases Property taxes on Local Homeowners:
While property taxes would decrease in some rural school districts, the total property tax rate would increase in urban and some suburban school districts. For example, the current local levy rate in the Seatte School district is $1.31 per thousand. Under the Republican plan, this new Local Levy rate would increase to $1.80 per thousand. For a $500,000 home in Seattle, homeowners would see their local taxes go up by $250 per year – while school funding in Seattle would decline by millions of dollars per year and funding for “descretionary” items like higher education would decline by more than one billion dollars per year.

In summary, the Levy Swap is really a Levy Swipe of more than one billion dollars per year from urban and suburban school districts mainly in King County with these funds being transferred to rural school districts in other counties around the state. I agree that rural school districts around our state are grossly under-funded. But the solution is not to rob urban and sub-urban school districts because they are also grossly under-funded. Nor is the solution to gut funding for higher education – which is also grossly underfunded. Nor is the solution to rob tax payers in King County – because their property taxes have already increased more than 100% in the past 20 years. The solution is to repeal the illegal tax breaks for the rich.

#6 The Republican Plan Reduces Rather than Increases Teacher Pay
The Republican Plan claims to increase the minimum teacher pay from $35,700 to $45,000 per year. In fact, what the Republican plan really does is completely eliminate real teachers by eliminating state regulations which currently require teachers to be fully trained and fully certified. Here is the quote from the Republican Plan: “School districts that meet performance standards are exempt from most state regulations… Districts gain flexibility to hire non-traditional teachers.” So real teachers could be replaced not only by non-qualified or poorly trained substitutes, they could be eliminated altogether and replaced by computer programs.


In addition, the Republican plan would eliminate the teachers union by eliminating the right of teachers to strike over either low pay or high class sizes.


#7 The Republican Plan Severely Harms Students by Falsely Labeling Most of them as Failures
Here is a quote from the Republican Plan: “By 2020 all districts have the goal of 86% (of all third grade students) meeting state standard in 3rd grade literacy. Only 54% (of all third grade students) met state standards in 2015-16 school year.”

The problem is that the standards refered to in the plan are not reasonable grade level standards written by child development specialists. Instead, they are the grotesque Common Core standards written by Wall Street consultants who have no idea of what a Third Grader is actually capable of achieving. These fake Common Core standards severely harm children by falsely labeling them as failures. For example, Common Core math standards require children to engage in Abstract Reasoning when most Third Graders are not capable of engaging in Abstract Reasoning.


The Common Core standards are measured on an extremely harmful test called the SBAC test – which is a test deliberately designed to fail most of the students who take it. Here is the results of the SBAC test compared to previous Washington state tests:


Note that 86% of Washington State students passed the NAEP test (the National Assessment of Educational Progress). This places Washington state students as among the highest scoring students in the United States and in the world. Meanwhile only 39% of these same students passed the 2015 SBAC test.


Instead of shaming our kids and our teachers by falsely labeling them as failures, we should be honoring them for how well they do despite the lack of state funding!

#8 The Republican Plan would decrease rather than increase the Graduation Rate in Washington State
The Republican Plan demands an increase in the Graduation Rate from 78% to 89% in the next 3 years. Yet we know that the only proven way to increase the graduation rate is to lower class sizes so that struggling students can get the help they need to succeed in school and succeed in life.

While there are many causes of school dropouts, one of the primary causes is extremely high class sizes. High class sizes prevent struggling students from getting the help they need to succeed in school. We have known for many years that smaller class sizes make a huge difference for struggling students. In 2005, a summary was published of the largest class size experiment ever conducted. Here is the link:
Finn & Gerber, 2005 Small Class Sizes and Graduating from High School, Journal of Educational Psychology, 97 (2), 214-223. (Data from Tennessee STAR Study)

This study confirmed that even just four years in small classes increased the Graduation Rate from 70% to 88% The STAR experiment was conducted in Tennessee from 1985 to 1990. About 12,000 students in 80 schools were randomly assigned with 6000 students assigned to a small class size of 15 to 18 students while the other 6000 students were assigned to a regular class size of 22 to 25 students in grades K through 3. In the 4th grade, all students were returned to regular size classes. Students in smaller classes had fewer attendance problems, fewer discipline problems, and much higher test scores.

The helpful effect of small class sizes was most noticeable among lower income and minority students. For example, the drop out rate 12 years later among low income students was cut from 30% to only 12%. Put another way, the graduation rate among low income and minority students skyrocketed from 70% to 88%. Small class sizes were able to greatly reduce and in many cases completely eliminate the so-called “Achievement Gap” or difference between higher income and lower income students. In addition, lower class sizes reduces the teacher attrition rate.


But lowering class sizes requires hiring more teachers and building more schools which in turn requires ending or at least reducing tax breaks for the rich. This is why lowering class sizes is not even being discussed ny either political party in Olympia.

#9 The Rebublican Plan Privatizes Nearly Every School in Washington State
No school district in the nation has ever had 86% of Third Graders passing the SBAC test – nor can this ever happen because the test is specifically designed to fail 50% or more of all kids. Thus, the Republican Plan is designed to falsely label every school district in Washington state as a failure. After being labeled as a failure, these school districts will all be open to being privatized and handed over to For Profit Wall Street Raiders.

Here is the language in the Republican Plan: “Up to 5% of schools not meeting standards can apply to be an innovation district.”

“Innovative School District” means a school district that is handed over to Wall Street raiders who then turn around and fire all of the real teachers replacing them typically with computer programs that do not actually help children.


While the language sounds like it would be limited to 5% of all schools, in fact because every school district in the state would be labeled a failure by the Republican Plan, every school district would be at risk for being privatized. The public goal of these racketeers is not just to privatize a few public schools – it is to privatize all of them.

Four Steps to Converting All Public Schools to For Profit Online Schools

Online charter schools have a graduation rate of only 20 to 30% – meaning that they fail nearly all students. In fact, many students score more poorly at the end of a year in an online charter school math test than they did at the beginning of the year. So the goal is not to help students, it is to make billions of dollars by destroying students.

#10 The Republican Plan is not about Funding our Public Schools, it is about Destroying them.
The Republican Plan is really the Billionaires Plan. Billionaires do not like public schools because they do not like Democracy. Thomas Jefferson noted that our public schools are the foundation not only of economic prosperity but also of our democracy. When students are brainwashed by online charter schools, it will be easier for billionaires to control them.

To learn more about the billionaires plan to destroy and take over our public schools, go to the following website:

Conclusion… It is time for Teachers and Parents to Wake Up and starting doing some serious research!
The WEA is currently supporting the Governors plan for school funding. This plan would impose about one billion dollars in carbon taxes every year and another one billion in capital gains taxes every year. Some of this new money might go towards schools. But given what usually happens in Olympia, this new revenue is just as likely to go into more tax breaks for the rich. I will write a detailed summary of the Democrats Plan after it is released. In the meantime, there are real solutions to the school funding crisis. I describe these solutions in detail at the following website:

Put simply, we do not need any new laws and we do not need any new taxes. All we need to do is enforce the Washington State Constitution by demanding that all 700 tax breaks for wealthy corporations be declared null and void. In addition, we need to start a Public Bank in Washington state like the Bank of North Dakota. This would save more than $4 billion per year we are currently sending to Wall Street Banks. To learn more about this, please read the following website:

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

David Spring M. Ed.
Coalition to Protect our Public Schools
Originally published at CoalitionToProtectOurPublicSchools

How the Washington State Democratic caucus worked to sabotage progressive candidates

The House Democratic caucus in Washington State supported Democrat Matt Larson over Darcy Burner in the 5th LD primary for House seat position #2.  Darcy is a strong progressive. She worked in D.C. as Executive Director of Progressive Congress and has a big following. The Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson. Later, after Darcy trounced Larson in the primary (11,014 to 5,056), the Dem Caucus donated only $20,000 to Burner.

Before the election I’d heard mumblings from a Democratic operative that Darcy was too far left, and after the election this same operative defended the caucus’s decision, saying that Larson would have been more electable.

Darcy Burner on TV

I was told by a knowledgeable source that the Democratic caucus also refused to support Jason Ritchie for state House because he refused to be critical of Darcy.

I asked Jason Ritchie about this, and he agreed that the HDCC didn’t want either him or Darcy in the caucus, so they didn’t target the races for support. He also agreed that both seats were winnable, as the district is trending blue. He went on (telling me I may quote him):

Labor allies stood behind my campaign 100%. I was endorsed by Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution. The problem is the HDCC and the entrenched elite who are not listening to the grassroots. Progressives and Labor need to stand together, not fight against each other, to oust the current leadership and reestablish our party as it was founded, progressive and working class champions.

Jason Ritchie for House

Here’s an early article about the caucus’ opposition to Darcy Burner, from Seattle Met: House Democrats Take Sides in Democratic Primary.

Here are details about the donations. In the 5th LD primary for House seat position #2, the Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson, Darcy’s Democratic challenger.

Democratic Caucus contributed $50,000 to Matt Larson
Darcy easily beat Larson: 11,014 to 5,056.   On Oct 10, 2016 the House Democratic Campaign Committee contributed $20,000 to Darcy’s campaign (substantially less than the $50,000 they gave to Larson).

Democratic Caucus contributed $20,000 to Darcy Burner

But Darcy lost in the general election to Paul Graves, who won 39,330 votes to Darcy’s 33,838.

In the other 5th House race, Jason Ritchie was the only Democratic primary candidate.  Republican Jaye Rodney beat Jason Ritchie 37,772 to 34,954 in the general election. That was even closer.

Fact is, the caucus (especially Frank Chopp) tends not to like progressive candidates.

They chose former Republican Rodney Tom over a good Democrat, leading to the Republicans taking over control of the state Senate. State Democratic chair Dwight Pelz later regretted this.

Fact is, the Democratic caucus is wishy-washy on Democratic Party principles:  Frank Chopp allowed Steve Litzow’s charter school bill SB 6194 to come to a vote; over a dozen Democrats voted for it; and Governor Inslee allowed the bill to become law. Despite its being unconstitutional!  See These Dems voted to undermine public schools, contravene the Constitution, and aid Republicans.

In 2012, after Dennis Kucinich’s seat was redistricted out of existence, he visited Washington State to investigate running for Congress here. But Pelz opposed Kucinich’s move and ridiculed him,  angering many progressives.

A similar sellout was the recent votes by Senators Murray and Cantwell against Bernie Sander’s bill to allow re-importation of pharmaceuticals from Canada. There is an effort underway among Democrats to pass a resolution, or possibly a censure, about this issue.   Yes, Trump’s upcoming inauguration is a dark day for America. No, that’s no excuse for selling out principles for the sake of campaign money from corrupt drug companies.

It’s sellouts like these that confuse the voters, cause low turnout, and contribute to GOP victories and defections to the Greens and Socialists.