Opinion

Seaquist’s school funding bill a tax hike in disguise

Rep. Larry Seaquist’s scheme to fund education in Washington state is likely to be a big hit with the education establishment that so reliably fills his party’s campaign coffers. But based as it is on a series of flawed assumptions, the bill would do absolutely nothing to improve education and even less for the state’s struggling economy.

Seaquist, a Gig Harbor Democrat, this week introduced HB-1980, which would funnel an additional $1 billion a year into education by closing as-yet-undiscovered tax loopholes, and characterized the measure as a form of economic stimulus.

“Education is our state’s ladder out of this deep economic hole,” he said. “The prospects both for our young students and all our adults who are un- or under-employed are being damaged by the cuts we’ve had to force on our education system.”

So in other words, the way to generate more revenue is by producing better-trained workers for jobs that don’t exist.

Assuming they actually are better trained, that is.

Back in the 1950s the state spent something like $2,000 per student in inflation-adjusted dollars compared with the more than $10,000 we spend today to produce far worse outcomes.

If it isn’t clear at this point that education’s problems can’t be fixed by throwing more money at them, it never will be.

More fundamentally, though, closing tax loopholes — which were presumably created in the first place to promote behavior that stimulates the economy — amounts to nothing more than yet another tax hike.

Stripped to its essence, Seaquist’s bill would siphon capital from the private sector into the pockets of the education special interests with no evidence our students would wind up better educated and plenty to suggest they won’t.

With all due respect, business, not education, is the “ladder out of (the state’s) deep economic hole.” And confiscating more of the resources that companies and individuals need to keep themselves afloat during these difficult times is a sure way to make that hole even deeper.

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