Tag Archives: Equity

Where is the ‘equity’ for victims of crime?

By ericcampbell | Published on August 08, 2022

— August 8, 2022

It was apparent then, and is even more apparent today: The 2021 legislative session really pushed our state in the wrong direction.

Governor Inslee and others who longed for a state income tax finally got their way.

Hard drugs were essentially legalized. Even worse, it was done in a way that puts treatment farther out of the reach of those who would likely benefit.

Lawmakers who decided they knew better than trained law-enforcement officers imposed limits on policing that have done nothing to slow a rise in violent crimes while enabling a record spike in vehicle thefts.

Inslee’s crusade to force people into EVs became a fuel-standard law that will make gas and diesel more expensive without generating a dime to make Washington roads safer and more efficient.

Now another mistake from 2021 is in the spotlight: the passage of SB 5164, titled “Resentencing of individuals sentenced as a persistent offender due to a robbery in the second degree conviction.”

As reported in The Columbian recently, this policy change undermined the state’s popular, voter-approved “three strikes” law in a way that is likely to let a Clark County child-killer escape from his life-without-parole sentence and instead gain an eventual shot at freedom.

The now-retired lead detective from that 2005 child-murder case told the newspaper something that really stood out to me.

“The question should be: Do the legislators think of the consequences of their actions on the victims? They’re looking at fairness and equity, but we are forgetting our victims.”

He’s right. State government’s recent emphasis on “equity” has been ethnicity- and identity-based to the exclusion of other communities.

I maintain that the severe racial and economic disparities created by remote schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic are the number-one equity issue of our time. Despite all the talk about equity in education – the subject of another bill passed in 2021 – it’s hard to get anyone to look into that. Certainly not Inslee, based on this veto.

If not for the children who are victims of government-driven, pandemic-related disparities, the number-one question about equity could rightfully be: Where is the fairness and equity for victims of crime in our state?

AUDIO: Senate Republicans establish first-of-its-kind initiative, offer principled stance on outreach and equity work

By tracyellis | Published on April 28, 2021

To address racial inequities in a principled, authentic, and holistic way, the State Senate Republican Caucus has created a new Office of Community Engagement and Inclusion.

Tracy Ellis has details.

Senate majority presents landmark plan for K-12 funding

By Laudan | Published on January 31, 2017

Education Equality Act would make student-centered, teacher-friendly reforms

Senate Majority Coalition Caucus members today introduced landmark reforms that would return state government to the role of primary provider for Washington’s K-12 schools while finally connecting school funding with the actual cost of educating students.

The MCC’s Education Equality Act is the first complete, ready-for-voting solution proposed by lawmakers since the state Supreme Court ruling in McCleary v. Washington. The 2012 ruling highlighted what was already known: decades of putting other services ahead of schools caused Washington’s 295 school districts to rely too much on local property tax-levy money to cover costs that should be the state’s responsibility. The Legislature has until April 1 to agree on a new funding approach that takes effect before 2018.

Sen. John Braun, as chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, is the Senate budget leader, and was one of the MCC members to serve recently on a bipartisan Joint Education Funding Task Force. That group managed to obtain educator-compensation information that was denied to lawmakers for more than a year, and was one of the final pieces needed to complete the MCC plan.

Braun said the Education Equality Act would not only result in full state-level funding of public schools but also address factors that have made the K-12 system inequitable for students, teachers and taxpayers.

“Our plan is student-centered and teacher-friendly. It’s based on fair and transparent funding and promotes local control and accountability. By any credible measure, this is a progressive approach that should eliminate the educational-opportunity gap, and the associated social injustices, caused by inconsistent district-level funding,” said Braun, R-Centralia.

“It also responds to concerns teachers have about compensation, and the concerns districts have about hiring as well as the so-called ‘levy cliff.’ These issues are outside of the Legislature’s constitutional mandate but are part of the larger picture, so it makes sense to include them in our set of reforms,” he added.

Under the MCC plan, legislators set a statewide per-student funding level that puts Washington in the upper ranks nationally; require each school district to levy the same local property-tax rate and put that revenue toward the per-student amount; and allocate state funds to cover the difference between the per-student standard and the local funding.

The per-student funding level would be higher, and the state’s contribution would increase accordingly, to cover additional services for children who have special needs, or are homeless, or are not native English speakers.

The benefits of the Education Equality Act, Braun explained, include a consistent state investment in each Washington student regardless of ZIP Code, and an end to wild swings in local school-levy rates – caused by varying property values between districts – which are inequitable to taxpayers and contribute to disparities in teacher pay.

In addition, the MCC proposes ending the statewide pay grid that limits teacher compensation based on service years and education and does not account for the local cost of living. This would allow districts more flexibility and control when it comes to recruiting and retaining teachers.

“The governor and others talk about brand new taxes to pay for schools, even though revenue from an energy tax or a tax on certain forms of income can’t possibly qualify as the ‘regular and dependable’ source the Supreme Court expects,” Braun said. “Our plan relies on a traditional funding source that meets the ‘regular and dependable’ standard set by the Supreme Court, and is familiar to families and employers in our state.

“Making up for decades of inattention and the resulting inequities isn’t easy, but this approach checks all the boxes. It’s sweeping, it’s straightforward, and it’s sensible.”