I-728 looks good on the outside, but it’s a lemon

By DIANE SYMMS

Initiative 728 is like buying a shiny new car — that has no engine. It looks really good on the outside. But if you buy it, it will just take your money and it won’t get you anywhere.

Please read I-728 — its supporters hope you won’t. It assures you nothing —except more of your hard-earned money will be sent off to bureaucrats for them to spend. The supporters say it won’t increase your taxes. Not now because you are paying too much in state taxes. There’s a surplus now because of our strong economy. But when the economy slows – expect tax increases because I-728 spends more! They didn’t tell you that.

It does not assure any class-size reduction. Read Section 3 of I-728. It states, "School districts shall have the authority to decide the best use of student achievement funds." Then it goes on to list six purposes the districts can spend the extra money on. Class-size reduction is in only two of the six options and they don’t have to spend one penny on class-size reduction.

It does not assure any improved student achievement. Read it. If you can find anything in I-728 that assures any improvements in student achievement — vote for I-728. If not — vote NO! Even if you read it very, very carefully, you won’t find any assurance. It isn’t there. Like the shiny new car with no engine, I-728 won’t take you where you want to go.

I-728 simply uses the glitz and allure of reducing class size — something we all can support — to try and convince taxpayers to open their wallets and let the bureaucrats in to take more out without having to show anything for the money they take.

Now if that is not enough, I-728 dodges the voter approved state-spending limit — Initiative 601. Prior to the enactment of I-601, state spending was growing far faster than both inflation and population growth combined. Six months before voters passed I-601, the Legislature enacted the state’s largest tax increase in history in order to fund its spending binge. I-601 has controlled state spending since its voter approval in 1993. Part of I-601 requires that state spending be reduced if money now going into the state’s general fund is transferred away to pay for something else. But I-728 changes I-601 and allows $465 million now going into the state’s general fund (money that is used primarily to fund education), to transfer to this new student achievement fund, but does not reduce general fund spending. This increases the state’s spending limit by $465 million above the limit now set by I-601. Why haven’t the promoters of I-728 explained that to you?

Unfortunately, there is still more deception hidden in I-728. A July report by the state Senate Committee Services says, "However, when compared to existing state law, there is actually an estimated net reduction in funds available for education construction purposes of $411 million." That’s right — reduction. I-728 actually takes badly needed money away from school construction and transfers it to this new student achievement account that doesn’t have to show anything for your hard-earned tax dollars.

Don’t let them put a guilt trip on you to get your vote. According to the National Education Association, Washington state taxpayers provide one of the highest levels of state funding for public education in the nation. State funding for pubic education averages 48.9 percent of school budgets nationally — Washington state is at 68.7 percent. There are only three states higher.

The problem in Washington state is not how much taxpayers are spending on public education. The problem is how your hard-earned tax money is being used. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation found that taxpayers are already spending $7,933 per student per year on public education. But only $2,812 of that amount is actually being spent in the classroom on basic education. Wow! Talk about overhead. The real answer is getting more bang from your hard-earned tax dollars they are already getting — not giving them more money.

That’s why the Seattle Times and other respected newspapers have already recommended a no vote on I-728. If you really read I-728 carefully, you too will see that a no vote is the right vote.

Finally, if you voted for I-695 — the $30 car tab initiative — you probably did so because you wanted your taxes to go down and state government to run more efficiently. I-728 does just the opposite of I-695. I-728 gives bureaucrats $465 million more to spend with no accountability. It means tax increases in your future. So, if you voted for I-695, you’ll want to vote NO on I-728.

Don’t get taken by I-728. Like that shiny, very good-looking car, check under the hood (read all of I-728). You’ll see that it has no engine and it won’t get you where you want to go. Vote NO on I-728.

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