The Washington State Legislature has been directed by the State Supreme Court to properly fund public schools, and Robinson Noble fully supports this action. The proper funding of public schools in the State is crucial to maintaining the local economy and the standard of living all Washingtonians enjoy. However, the State Senate is currently looking at funding schools by taking money from the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF). Senate Bill 5985 would permanently redirect 67% of the allocated Real Estate Excise Tax funds and 100% of the allocated Public Utility and Solid Waste Taxes funds away from the PWTF and to the Education Legacy Trust Account created in 2010. If passed, the action will become effective in July 2013 and greatly reduce funding for the PWTF.
Improving the infrastructure of Washington State is critical to our economy, including the health of our public schools. It is widely acknowledged among the engineering community that we have a huge problem in the United States with funding infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives the country an overall grade of D+ on infrastructure (an individual grade for Washington State is not yet available – both Oregon and Idaho earned C- grades for 2010 and 2012, respectively). This is not the time for Washington State to be cutting funding for the PWTF. The PWTF provides grants and low-interest loans to local utilities for water, wastewater, solid-waste, bridge, and road projects. The Daily Journal of Business reports that “every dollar invested by the PWTF in basic infrastructure yields an additional $3.60 in statewide economic activity.” So, not only is the PWTF important to improving failing infrastructure, it also helps spur economic growth (which, in turn, provides needed tax dollars for schools!).
Certainly the Legislature can do better for schools than by crippling the PWTF. I encourage you to write your legislators today in support of both schools and the Public Works Trust Fund.