Editor's Note: This story is in response to a Viewpoint article
that appeared last month in support of Initiative 884. It is Seattle's Child
objective to provide our readers with both sides of this important issue.
Here is the argument against I-884.
Two organized groups are opposing Initiative 884, the Education Trust Fund Initiative, on the November ballot. The initiative would raise the state portion of the sales tax from 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent to raise $1 billion a year for preschool, K-12 and higher education.
The League of Freedom Voters is a political action committee of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) formed specifically to stop the I-884 tax increase. CSE is a national organization with 10 state chapters; the 15-year-old Washington state chapter has 13,000 members, according to Jamie Daniels of Lacey, Washington state director for CSE and campaign director of the League of Freedom Voters.
Raising the sales tax by one-cent on every dollar is a 15.4 percent increase, costing an average household making $50,000 a year about $215/year and giving Washington the highest state sales tax in the country. “Raising taxes will have a big effect while we are recovering from economic recession,” Daniels summarizes. “The way to get more money for education is to create more jobs.” The league also opposes the sales tax increase because it is regressive: lower income voters end up paying a higher proportion of their incomes in sales tax.
Daniels also points out that the initiative may not raise as much money for education as proponents hope. The initiative specifies that the legislature may not reduce other funding for education to offset the new source of revenue. “The problem is that you can’t bind the legislature to that,” she says, noting that an initiative can be amended by the legislature. The Washington PTA, which endorses the initiative, raises the same concern.
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, based in Olympia, is not affiliated with the League of Freedom Voters, but has also been working against I-884. The foundation was founded in 1991, has 2,500 members and is described as a free market public policy research organization.
Marsha Richards, the groups’ education reform director, notes that Washington is already spending $9,454 per pupil and that more money does not necessarily lead to improved student achievement. “I-884 does not define any outcomes, nor does it provide consequences in the case of program failure or financial mismanagement,” she states. She writes that 11 of the 12 members citizen oversight board created by I-884 would be appointed by the governor or state agencies and would be “little more than an arm of the bureaucracy.”
For more information on opposition to I-884, contact the League of Freedom Voters, 360-456-1634, www.freedomvoters.org, or the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, 360-956-3482, www.effwa.org.
Click here to read the original Viewpoint article in support of I-884.