Guest Opinions

Teacher says vote no on I-1366, it will hurt students

As a parent and longtime Kennewick teacher, I’m voting NO on Initiative 1366.

I-1366 is another bad idea from Seattle-area political operative Tim Eyman, who is under investigation by the state Attorney General for alleged campaign finance violations.

I’m urging my friends, family and neighbors to oppose Eyman’s I-1366 because it will harm our community’s students and diminish the quality of life here in the Tri-Cities.

My husband and I have sent our two children through the public education system and college in the state of Washington. They both received a quality education, and as an educator, I want all of our state’s children to have the same opportunity for success. That’s what our state Constitution requires. It says amply funding a quality basic education for every student is the state’s “paramount duty.”

Yet Eyman’s latest misguided ballot measure jeopardizes our children’s future by making it impossible to fund the education they deserve.

I-1366 will cause more partisan gridlock in Olympia and blast an $8 billion hole in our state’s operating budget over the next six years. Our state Supreme Court already is holding the Legislature in contempt for underfunding our public schools. If this initiative passes, it will be extremely difficult to find the money the court ordered to fix this problem and fully fund our kids’ education.

That means, once again, our children will pay the price with increased class sizes, out-of-date text books, old materials and outdated technology — and fewer great teachers willing to stay in Washington.

Eyman’s I-1366 won’t just harm our kids and our schools. It will also cut the social and health services our families rely on. I-1366 jeopardizes higher education and student aid, corrections, public safety assistance for local governments (police, firefighters, roads) and housing. If it passes, I-1366 will also slash funding for mental health services, state parks and economic development.

We cannot afford these cuts for the citizens of Washington.

There are other good reasons to oppose I-1366. It trashes the longstanding concept of majority rule, which is a basic issue of fairness in a democracy. It puts control over our state’s budget in the hands of a small minority of lawmakers, especially those beholden to the wealthy and big special interests.

That means it will make it harder for our elected leaders to reform our state’s regressive and unfair tax structure. I’m an educator, not a tax expert, but I know our current system is out of whack.

As a voter and educator, I believe I-1366 is politics at its worst. Voters should send a clear message that enough is enough, and join the bipartisan coalition opposing Initiative 1366. Let’s reject this false choice and take positive steps to make our government more accountable, fair and focused.

We need to do what is best for the future of Washington State. Vote NO on I-1366.

Denise Hogg has served as a teacher in the Kennewick School District since 1980 and is resident of Kennewick. www.no13666.0rg