Governor says schools will stay closed for remainder of year; Edmonds superintendent pledges to address student needs

With the announcement Monday afternoon by Gov. Jay Inslee and State Superintendent Chris Reykdal that K-12 school closures will remaining in effect through the end of the school year, Edmonds School District Superintendent Kris McDuffy says the district “will be doing everything we can to take care of each and every student.”

“We have initial plans underway and we will be building upon those in the coming days and weeks,” McDuffy said in a letter to families Monday. “We are examining options for our seniors to finish strong and have the best launch possible to their college and career pursuits.”

McDuffy also focused on the status of graduating high school seniors, stating the district will be talking with students, families, and staff in the near future “about ways to honor this incredible Class of 2020.” 

In addition to the seniors, the district will be seeking input about how best to finish the year for all students, in areas such as assessments, grades, transcripts, and extra-curricular opportunities.

“I hope you can take the rest of this spring break week to exhale, send love and well wishes to those important people in your life, and know that we will be on the road to better days soon,” McDuffy said.  

30 Replies to “Governor says schools will stay closed for remainder of year; Edmonds superintendent pledges to address student needs”

  1. I am devastated for my senior. He was really looking forward a great last track season, the last months with friends who will go separate ways after school, prom and, of course, graduation. We are grateful for our good health and understand the decisions made, but still mourn the big rites of passage that these students will not experience.

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  2. Perhaps the superintendent would entertain taking a pay cut or furlough like some company employees and CEO’s during this time with schools closed to help save money. 294K a year. 310K for new incoming superintendent.

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    1. I can smell a strike around the middle of August to include hazardous pay for teachers moving forward. Homeowners, be prepared for the annual property tax hike

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  3. At the moment, we all have a great deal on our minds that is unsettling and even dreadful. As a community, we need to support each other, offer constructive ideas, and not speculate about bad things that may happen. I

    It’s clear that the future is going to see a new normal, and it’s equally clear that much will need to be repaired, rebuilt, and renegotiated. Taxes may have to go up in the process of rebuilding – much has been lost. We are going to need to roll up our sleeves and get to work together. Let’s not look for things to be apprehensive of or dread. Let’s offer good ideas, be ready to sacrifice a bit, and pull together. We’re a democracy and a community, and that’s how democracy and communities work best.

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  4. NB, you make some good points. One would hope we could just hit the “pause” button and go back to where we were with little or no impact. That is wishful thinking and it will be more like a total system crash and a reload of all the software. As you say lots to be repaired, rebuilt, and renegotiated.

    Our politics have been on a slow left curving county road with a 20 mph speed limit. After we settle down a bit we will find ourselves on a fast curving freeway with a 70 mph speed limit. As we move to more of the progressive agenda, hopefully we will do it with great care and the maximum public input. We all will be impacted forever and we all ought to have our input heard.

    Our new public information director for Edmonds can have an enormously valuable role in providing the public with timely and accurate information and craft ways for increased public input. Surveys and questionnaires can serve a renewed role in gathering public input.

    We just need to do some of these things better than we have in the past.

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    1. Darrol, I’m not sure where your analogy of politics being a left leaning road trip comes from? I guess I could see it, somewhat, from a state politics perspective since our current government is Democratic party controlled but I don’t think that means much really. It seems to me that much of our national politics has been leaning to the right since the Reagan era. (Reagan Democrats and all that). We’ve had numerous tax cuts for corporations and wealthy folks in general and the biggest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper class since the days of the Robber Barons who accumulated great wealth and paid essentially no taxes.

      Right now our politicos at the national level in both parties are bending over backwards to try to figure out how to save our major corporations (read Boeing, the airline companies and big banks). I’m not saying that’s a bad idea but I am saying it unfairly favors the already haves over the have nots. What it is, is emergency Socialism (left leaning) in an attempt to save Capitalism (right leaning). When all else fails, all there is left is the dreaded evil government. It happened in 2008 and it’s happening again. Different reason, but same necessity.

      I would say our tax situation is flawed because we’ve dumped more and more of the taxation burden on the people least able to pay taxes. Washington state has possibly the most regressive tax system in the county which is not evidence of left leaning, but just the opposite. I do agree we are going to have to learn to do things better because the turnip is almost out of blood.

      As I said before it’s going to get real expensive to live in Edmonds under current taxation schemes. Lots of folks just aren’t going to have the money to support good schools and build fountains in the middle of the road anymore. I guess they will have to move to Mountlake Terrace, heaven forbid.

      Time to wake up and scrap all this ideological bunk. Figure out systems that actually work for everyone and tax everyone fairly based on ability to pay and their accrual of the benefits of the social commons (good schools, good roads, strong military and competent law enforcement); not on who they can or can’t buy off politically to gain tax breaks and immunity in some cases.

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  5. Clint, my point was simply this. And no judgement of is good or bad was implied or implied in the following. At least in our state the progress ideas have been gaining traction slowing over the last few years. Family leave minimum wage, schools doing more than just teaching, and other progressive ideas. Not judging! One of the most progressive ideas is to change our tax system to be less regressive. Lesser income people pay a greater percent of their income than those who make more. We here that all the time. Some local and the state govt have offered several “income oriented” taxing processes all in the name of less regressive. Back in a moment to that idea.

    My point in using the analogy is that we were already on a slow left turning road at 20 mph and the current CV issues has upped the speed to that of a freeway, 70 mph. Again not judging just observing, unemployment issuance for folks not traditionally covered and at rates designed to keep lesser income folks able to get by. More medical services for those who do not have insurance. CV will cause us to do what NB said, repair, rebuild and renegotiate. Progressive ideas of higher minimum wage, better safety nets, and other ideas while be helpful in the short run will be advanced by progressives as something we need to do now. Again not judging.

    At the state level and at the local level we have to have balanced budgets. Feds do not. Can the feds do 2008 and 2020 bailouts the next time. Matt would tell us no, and not without damage to the economic systems. NB suggests we may have to have more taxes. I would tend to believe the better answer is for more revenues to be collected at state and local levels and let us figure out how to collect it and how to spend it.

    At state and local levels we basically have property tax and a sales tax. Both have had to go up to pay for the govt the elected has decided to have. All were elected by popular vote. In Edmonds we have not asked for less parks or less arts stuff, or less community centers. We have also agreed, with a lot of push back, to pay for our water and sewer services and the infrastructure it takes to deliver it with fees on the service. Some call user base fees regressive!

    If we do not have the will to raise property tax or sales tax and we feel we need more money then we really only have tax on income left. In the 1930s and several times since the Attorney General and the Courts have agree that Washington can create an income tax that removes the regressive quality of our current tax system. We can if we want create an income tax that gets over the lesser income folks pay a larger percent of their income than higher income people. Income would be all charged at the same rate. The Seattle Times has reported that a 10% income tax would eliminate all sales and all property tax! A lower property tax, and a lower sales tax and a new income tax would not only be a better balance of revenue streams but it would be far less regressive.

    All past attempts of the progressives to create and income tax different than what is allowed has always been shot down by the courts. Maybe this CV stuff will provide a new incentive to create a more balances tax system within the law.

    We seemed to already be heading left and the current events will simply accelerate that. Again not judging.

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    1. I’m not accusing you of judging. I’m accusing you of continuing to use red flag type words like “left leaning” and “progressive” and “heading left.” I don’t think these terms serve your cause to promote good government and fair taxation which I too support. We should start looking at things only in terms of good ideas that might work and bad ideas that havn’t worked so far. The minute you put these ideological labels and spin on ideas, you’ve lost half your potential audience and I guarantee you will fail in your cause if you keep doing it. It comes down to all of us needing to promote a system that works for the greatest good of all, not just some. If we proceed as a we have been, essentially two armed camps ready to pounce, we are done for as a viable Society and Democracy.

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      1. Clint, the following will be offered with no labels. Only some ideas. I tried to present a balanced case for why an income tax allowable under our state constitution would be a more balanced way to raise government funding. Adding a income tax and reducing the property and sales tax would be far less regressive than today and may garner more public support for funding govt. I think that is a good idea for good govt. With no labels at all and a good plan half said “no” right after they heard the words “income tax”.

        Given the balance of the 3 taxes, property, sales, income there are 3 ideas of how to implement a 3 tax system.
        1. All 3 taxes in place and total govt revs go down.
        2. All 3 taxes in place and total govt revs stay the same.
        3. All 3 taxes in place and total revenue goes up.
        Some folks, groups, parties, political ideology love option 1 and some would love option 3.

        Clint, can you tell from what I have said anywhere above which option I might personally think is the “best way to promote a system that works for the greatest good?” The real answer is it depends on what we want a good govt to do. The tax system is only the way to pay for it. If those who we have elected had to select on of the 3 alternatives one group might select 1, and the other might select 3 but neither would select 2. Still no labels. But so far it would be unlikely to gain a super majority of our elected folks not base on a more fair system but rather on the amount of revenues raised. Good ideas for good govt are truly hard to sell.

        Back to school and kids. Many folks during the last bond and levy election voted no. Both gather with a majority but a super majority was needed for the bonds. Those who I talked to personally, including you, lead me to believe they supported schools but they were just too tapped out on property taxes and would vote no. There was very little discussion of the issue of the need for the plan, it boiled down to property taxes are too high. That’s done now but what if we were asked to vote for a income tax that would lower most folks total tax bill? Vote for a tax and my total taxes go down?! Might have been a different outcome.

        Clint, a good govt is one that clearly defines the problem it is trying to solve and then gathers the folks who can help create the solutions that are measurable and adjustable as we learn more. I am hopeful our elected with all their labels will step up and create a fairer system for collecting the revenues our government needs. Remember “Thema and Louise” going from zero to a pretty good clip? This is where we are right now. Hopefully our elected are all in the back seat. What will they tell T and L to do?

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        1. Okay, I’ll play. My guess is you would be in favor of option two, supposedly being revenue neutral but spreading the tax pain around a little more equitably.

          Now I’ll give you my take on some of what you said above. First I did not vote no for schools because I personally can’t afford to pay the cost. I can. I voted no because I think I’m paying more than my fair share for the public schools which I have asked nothing of since I graduated in 1964. I’ve produced no children who have to be educated and my parents paid their share of the cost of education for me and my siblings. Selfish, maybe, but short of just not paying my property taxes voting no is my only available form of protest other than commenting here.

          As to the income tax issue, you lost me at “all three taxes in place.” I vote no on income tax proposals because they never include the provision for elimination of the state sales tax. Somewhere here I think you wrote that a 10% income tax would eliminate the need for a sales tax completely according to some study. I would probably vote for that, but that is not going to happen. People with large and very large incomes will fight that proposal because 10% of $500,000 is a lot more actual cash than 10% of $50,000. That’s why the flat tax idea has never taken flight and probably never will at the state or national level. In terms of special interests favored by tax law, why would you (in this case meaning a corporation which are people as per the SCOTUS) pay a substantial something when you can get away with paying essentially nothing to support the common good.

          As to your last paragraph, I pretty much agree with you. That very approach seems to be what is going a long way toward defeating the Covid-19 virus in WA. State. There’s a lot to be said for believing Science. I mention that because I think it is a good model for our city and it’s problems down the road. Inslee just vetoed a bunch of bills he was all for because he now knows we can’t afford them.

          The big mistake Edmond’s residents made in the past was completely falling for and buying into our elected leaders and developer friends dreams of making Edmonds an economic powerhouse based on it being a great place, which it is. The problem is our business base can’t support the life style to which we have become accustomed. That was true even before the virus.

          That said, I do support your efforts to right the ship my friend. We definitely need you and other’s like you.

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  6. NB, I wanted to offer a couple of more supportive comments to your above and closer to the theme of this thread, Schools. Over the last 20 years I have volunteered for several school things. 1. Math tutor at Middle School. 2. From the tutoring experience I had the great pleasure of working with the math curriculum folks as they sorted out set of books. 3. Also from the tutoring experience I was asked to conduct some para educators seminars dealing with what worked in my tutoring experience. 4. Worked with the technically folks twice as they sorted out what new technology we need and how to implement it. 5.. A team was put together who spent several months evaluating projections of future enrollment out to 2027. 6. finally the latest work was on the last building bond issue.

    Being and outsider but working with the truly dedicated staff on these issues was a true eye opener. But now we need to “repair, rebuild, and renegotiate” . The key in my mind is a large public involvement in all of these steps. Not just the teachers, staff, administrators, parents and staff. A great approach would be similar to some of the activities mentioned above. The public members on some of these teams often came up with some very creative ideas that made the final cut.

    The newly hired Superintendent made public comments about his leadership style before he was elected. One of his key points was “public trust” . Hopefully he will see that one of the key success points for the future will be to develop that public trust. This will be critically important as he sets out to “repair, rebuild, and renegotiate”. Taxes may need to go up, go down, or be reallocated. But it should be done in a way that builds on public trust.

    NB, thanks for your other comments you are often a “settling” force in these difficult decisions.

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    1. Darrol, thanks for the kind words. Teresa has wisely kept a few of my worst moments “on the cutting floor.”

      When I started as a teacher, my mentor, Bob Spock, who had been my 7th Grade English teacher, told me two very wise things: “Trust yourself” and “Parents can be your greatest allies.” I found the latter, at least, to be very true 90% of the time. If you explain to parents, and they are prepared to listen, a lot can get done. And the kids need everything we can give them.

      I’m tempted to think that teachers are the most valuable asset we have, because so much of the future lies in their hands. This is why I always vote in their favor.

      None of which is much to the point, but you jogged my memory. In broader terms, I believe that trust, listening, mutual respect, and self discipline (something I’m often bad at, as Teresa knows) can help us win through. If we have only one question to ask of the present, I believe it ought to be, “How can we do better?”

      At the end of “Civilization”, Kenneth Clark puty it better than I can:

      At this point I reveal myself in my true colours, as a stick-in-the-mud. I hold a number of beliefs that have been repudiated by the liveliest intellects of our time. I believe that order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology… I also hold one or two beliefs that re more difficult to put shortly. For example, I believe in courtesy, the ritual by which we avoid hurting other people’s feelings by satisfying our own egos.

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  7. Does anyone have clarity on what the education plan is moving forward? Our friends who have their children enrolled in private school have shared that their school was offering online education (4+ hours) a day the following week after shutdown.

    Our children are enrolled in public education – and they are doing less than 4 hours a week. With three plus weeks off.

    My hope is that this does not continue – we are already spending money on a tutor just to keep with pace with where the curricula should be.

    Any insight from those who are in the district or teaching?

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    1. Mike, as a grandparent I asked the same question and asked for input from parents and teachers as to how it was going. No one responded.

      With two grandchildren in the ESD our daughter is trying to teach them herself and finding educational material for them to assimilate some sort of a school schedule. The district plan or lack thereof and support in my perception has been spotty. As you found, parents seem to be on their own. Private schools seem prepared with a plan as we all have read.

      Hopefully, it is going better for you and others since you wrote this.

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      1. Hey Mike / we are adapting. It truly is an interesting case in social engineering. When we talk with our friends who have children that are doing 4 -6 hours of schooling a day compared to ours who are doing maybe an hour of “formal”, we chose to take matters into our own hands.

        This is certainly an opportunity to learn and make changes moving forward.

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    2. Hi Mike, I too am a bit surprised what looks like a slow and not very complete response to our changing educational needs. Parents I know who are in a private/charter type school seems to adapt to these changes very quickly. ESD has a one to one computer ratio but the lower grades did not take them home. I think that is now changed so all kids have computers at home. I worked on the earlier tech levy, not the one that just passed but the one that was designed to do the one on one stuff. To get a firm grasp of how that would work I asked to go to one of the “test” schools to see how the one to one stuff worked. I was thrilled and amazed on how the computers were being used. Teachers were well trained and in control of how the computers were being used. Students were useing thiem both in class and at night, including working with teachers at night during the teachers “office hours”. Remember that from college? I met with the repair guy and with staff and actually had hands on experience on working on a paper with someone remote and seeing how all that worked. Really some new trick for an old (some color) guy. With all that I am puzzled for the slow roll out.

      The new superintendent will be arriving about the time we will relax a bit the social distancing rules and I was planning to ask for an appointment, introduce myself and offer some ideas to him about how he can best build public trust. He as already met with staff, and teachers and parents so it may be time to begin the engagement of other taxpayers of all ages. Maybe would be helpful is if we could put together of group of MEN contributors and offer to met him as a group. My agenda was going to cover 3 things. 1. Some cost saving ideas that could help ESD same some money and use the savings to create more equity in technology. 2. Some views on what went wrong with the last bond election and how to overcome that with the next attempt to pass a capital bond. 3. How best can we prepare for the day when we simply cannot afford the existing teaching model of build a building, put a kid in a chair, put a teacher in front of the class on a daily basis. This is not the place to expand on these ideas but I would be “curious to know” if others have the same ideas and want to work as a team to prepare for such a meeting.

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      1. My deep concerns are for the kids education now. They will have had 5-6 months out of school with little education mostly provided by concerned parents.

        I worry deeply that many kids will be totally unprepared to move up to the next grade creating problems for years to come for each of them.

        I hope that ESD will rise to the occasion and truly work for the kids needs now.

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        1. Mike M. You are so correct in the primary issue of lost time. We have some great teachers who we could call upon to design programs to augment education between now and when school may open in the fall. We will have CV testing methods shortly that will help us folks who may have CV or the antibodies for protection. Once we have that capability we can design methods that can use our school building to get back into the business of safely. Once we have the safety plan understood and implemented we could offer those teachers who want grants to put together and execute “catch up” programs.

          Your concerns are very valid. We can find ways to address those concerns if we put our thinking caps on.

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        2. MM – I echo your concern. I am also truly curious why it has taken so long to operationalize online learning for the district. This is not new. Online learning has been around for years – perhaps I’m missing why there is difficulty in duplicating the process that private schools seemed to have executed in days.

          With almost 50% of our state taxes spent on schools, I think this is a safe call to say we are committed to educating our children – and this situation has shed light on where we might want to invest some of that 50%.

          Darrol, does the percentage include the levy we pay here in Edmonds?

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  8. Evidently Darroll has not had the honor of living under California’s onerous taxation system…

    1. Progressive State Income Tax does NOT reduce property taxes.
    2. Progressive State Income Tax does NOT reduce sales taxes.
    3. Progressive State Income Tax is the Mother Lode of Democratic State Legislatures everywhere.

    The Progressive Sate Income Tax is raised on a whim of the Legislature and the taxpayer is not consulted!

    Let’s NOT become California!!

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    1. Hi Donaldd, you are correct i have not had that honor but have friends and relatives who do. None of my comments or suggesting came anywhere near recommending a “blank” State Income tax. Eadh of your 3 points can guide us to building a better and more fair system. Key point by folks other than politicians is that our current system has a regressive quality. The claim is that lower income folks pay a higher percent of their income to taxes than higher income folks. All data I have seen show that to be true.

      1. Sales tax: Low income people simply spend more of their income on things which are taxed that do higher income folks.
      2. Property tax: Low income people spend more on housing as a percent than do higher income. Rents have property tax built into the rent.

      Together sales and property do impact lower income people as a percent of their income that it does for higher income people. Most would agree that if we are interested in ideas that will make the tax system more fair we should try to find ways to lower the impact of taxation on lower income folks and raise the impact on higher income folks. Impact in this case is measured by % of ones income goes to taxes. If we are not interesting in ideas that are more fair than so be it. Done. But if we are wanted to create a more fair system we need ideas that will impact the % of income people pay. That decision should be made long before we decide on a plan to collect revenues for government operations.

      Public input on how much we want to collect, for what purpose, and for how long adds to accountability. School capital bonds are an interesting example. The are very predictable on the amount we plan to collect, they are very specific on the rates and the length of the collection and they require a super majority.

      A balanced tax system of all 3 taxes with controls on the amount that can be collected and approval processes that allow for public input can be designed to prevent what you have described in your comments.

      NB said above we will need to “repair, rebuild, and renegotiate” things impacting our education system. We have 1 M kids, and 7 M people in WA. And we spend almost 50% of our state taxes on schools. We spend added money at the local level as well. It may be a good time to try collectively to think about a bunch of issues. What do we want govt to do, what might that cost, and how do we plan to raise the money we decide are govt tasks. This will all require some prioritization at all levels of govt. As our state and city reserve funds become depleted we may will need to rethink a bunch of stuff.

      The public, all of us, should take a more active role in what lies ahead. And as Donaldd sometimes reminds us.

      Just Saying.

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    2. I experienced a state income tax when living in Oregon Even with no sales tax the elected officials managed to get taxes there higher than what I experienced when I moved to Washington. I have no doubt that taxes here would be higher than they currently are if an income tax was implemented.

      Look at our Regional Tax Authority tax. I bought a new car one year ago; yesterday my car tabs renewal arrived – the tax is only 5% lower this year. Sound Shysters say that they adopted a depreciation schedule that had been previously used. Hopefully who ever came up with that schedule has been fired. What’s happened with this issue? I thought that a judge was close to resolving it a few weeks ago. Our legislature has had years to fix it but has done nothing.

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  9. Clint, thanks for your latest comments. Clarification. I did not make my point clear about the use of the words all 3 taxes in place. What my thought was that for this example we could have a sales tax and a property tax working as it does today. Both could be reduced if we were to add an income tax. Together all three in place word more fair than just to 2 we have today. Then with all 3 in place we would have the 3 options: collect less, collect the same, or collect more. That would really depend on how we sort out want we want a good government to do now that we facing the CV issue.

    You guess I would select the same revenue option. Actually not. With CV will will deplete our reserves at all levels of govt. We will need some ways to replenish those reserves unless we change a bunch of laws like balanced budgets. That said I would suggest we consider a “more revenue” option for a couple of years and then adopt a “less revenue” option going forward.

    That can work if we “repair, rebuild, and renegotiate” the things we find broken in our current system. That will require us all to find ways to prioritize the use of our public funds.

    More now, fix stuff so we can spend less later.

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    1. Posting this on behalf Darrol Haug, who was having trouble getting this to show up:

      In 1930 the WA Supreme Court ruled that is was legal to have an income tax so long as income was classified as property. The rate would have to be uniform. A person making $10,000 would be taxed at the same rate as a person making $100,000 or $10,000,000. If the tax rate were say 1% then the income tax bill for each would be $100, $1,000 and $1,000,000 respectively.

      When I asked our current Attorney General at a public meeting in Edmonds awhile back about the Court’s decision he assigned his chief of staff to work with me and get and updated official position of the AG’s office. Long story short, the AG office has confirmed that Court opinion. I met with the AG after that and in that discussion he amplified the issue as a political issue.

      Creating an income tax that is allowed in WA would improve substantially the repressiveness of our current system. We may want to think about an income tax and how to put controls on it and other taxes to limit the growth of govt total revenues. This will only happen if we develop better public input on what we want govt to do. We simply cannot sustain champagne tastes with a beer budget. They need to match.

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  10. I read that Washington has surpassed Mississippi as having the most regressive taxation in the Nation. And I suspect we can make a good guess why they had a massively regressive system.
    Unfortunately, my understanding is that our state constitution outlaws income taxes. So, progressive taxation is pretty much outlawed in this state. Without an income tax, things like car tabs have to go up if the state or community want to do capital intensive projects.
    Holding California up as an example of the evils of income taxes ignores the impact of prop 13 which held property tax increase to 1% per year. Really? How many years has inflation been 1%? It crippled California in many, many ways.
    So, welcome to Washington; a state where the wealthy pay low taxes and the middle class and below get reamed. As somebody else said in a different context today, “when you drown the government in the bathtub, people die”.

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  11. Mike S. This data is not perfect but when we were working on the bond stuff here are some numbers that give an idea of some of the expenses associated with Edmonds education. Before McCleary the state totals for education were something like 42%. When the state stepped up the funding that portion went up to something like 46-47% as I recall. To understand the local portion we can look at the state portion as a cost per kid from the state. That’s about $15-16,000. When the shift from local to state occurred the local maximum that was allows is $2500 per kid. It can be used for extra curricular stuff. We were not fully funded for special ed and nurses and that has to come out of the total. The new tech levy that will be $24m per year and we have about 21,000 kids that equates to about $1000 per kid per year. But wait there’s more. When you look at the cost of a school building, estimate its life and kids that will be in the building over the life of the building its about $2500-3000 per kid per year for the building.
    These numbers are just estimates from memory but do give a bit of understand what it costs for free public education.
    $16,000 from state
    $2,500 from local
    $2,500 for a place to sit
    $1,000 for technology
    $22,000/kid /year
    I will try to update this kind of data when it becomes available.

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