Thank you for the editorial urging that levy lids be kept in place. It is very hard for parents in advantaged districts to observe shortfalls in state funding and yet to face levy lids that prevent them from covering some of those shortfalls with local taxes.
But constitutional standards cannot be ignored. As the McCleary opinion made clear, the special levy technique for financing schools has serious problems of regularity, uniformity and equality. The court — while not prohibiting local levies — clearly saw them as playing a relatively minor role in school funding. As interpreted by the court, the constitution celebrates the principle that we want quality education for all our kids, including those in districts where voters do not highly prize education, where property values are less and equalization formulas not robust enough, or where district personal income is less and levies are just harder to pass.
It is easy to say the state Legislature should step up to the plate and provide ample school funding. That is a difficult goal — technically, economically and politically. Still, the children in disadvantaged districts should not bear the burden of our inability to approach the goal, and the increased use of special levies imposes precisely that burden.
William R. Andersen, Seattle, Judson Falknor Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Washington Law School