Democrat Kagi, Republican Schirle give views on money for schools

Sunday, September 25, 2016

By Evan Smith

Incumbent Democratic 32nd District State Rep. Ruth Kagi and Republican challenger David Schirle recently shared far different views on what the legislature should do to meet the State Supreme Court’s order to provide full support for basic education. Both have sent responses to a question about how the legislature should pay for public schools.

Kagi and Schirle will meet on the November ballot to represent the 32nd District, which includes the city of Shoreline and part of northwest Seattle, Woodway and nearby unincorporated areas, south Edmonds, the city of Lynnwood, part of Mountlake Terrace.

Here are the candidates’ statements in the order that their names will appear on the ballot and in the voters’ pamphlet:

Ruth Kagi
Ruth Kagi (Prefers Democratic Party)—

Although the Legislature has increased funding to K-12 schools by $2.8 billion in the past three years, the challenge faced by the next legislature is to fund teacher compensation and local levies -- without decimating other important services. Cutting our early learning, mental health, child welfare and other supports for children and families to fund education would be self-defeating.

There are many possible approaches to addressing the funding problem. Levy reform, which would distribute funding more equitably to districts across urban and rural areas, is part of the solution but must be combined with new revenue to assure urban districts are not damaged.

Several revenue options to fund our schools passed the House previously, raising over a billion dollars by closing tax exemptions (including the water-bottle and out-of-state sales-tax exemptions), extending the B and O tax surcharge, and closing some business tax exemptions. I also support a capital gains tax on the top 5 percent of our wealthiest residents to fund education. Washington has the most regressive tax system in the country, and is one of seven states without a capital gains tax.

All sides must be willing to compromise to reach a solution that fully funds education.

David D. Schirle
David D. Schirle (Prefers Republican Party)--

The State is supposed to fund education. The legislature already is funding education. The Supreme Court has decided that they did not spend enough money. Does anyone else see what’s wrong with that picture? Can the Court legally do this? Should the court do this? NO!

The question being asked is what would I do about funding education. Well we are funding education already. But our Supreme Court has decided that the State Legislature has not met its obligations. The answer seems simple enough. The court does not fund anything. Nor can it decide if something is being funded properly. Not too much or too little. They do not have the authority. They should not have the authority. This is why we have the legislature: To pass Laws and to fund those laws. In this matter the legislature should basically ignore the court.

Do we need to spend more on education? Of course the answer will always be YES. But we are limited. There is only so much money. I think there is much wrong with how we are educating. But money alone will not fix those problems. There must be a shift in how we solve the problem first.

Evan Smith can be reached at


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