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WASHINGTON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO STATE REVENUE SHORTFALL

    WASHINGTON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT RESPONDS
              TO STATE REVENUE SHORTFALL
    FEDERAL WAY, Wash., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Cuts in education spending are a short-sighted approach to resolving a state budget dilemma and would only worsen Washington's long-term economic health, Washington Education Association President Carla Nuxoll said today in response to a revenue forecast showing a $694 million shortfall in the state's current biennial budget.
    "Strong, well-supported systems of public schools and higher education are the most important assurances of long-term economic stability in Washington state," said Nuxoll.  "Proposals to reduce funding for schools to help resolve the deficit would only be counter- productive.  If we want a work force that can support the state, attract new businesses and new residents, and give our citizens confidence in a promising future for Washington, we should be considering improving education spending, not eroding it even further during a temporary financial downturn.
    "That strategy is not only short-sighted, it's a blatant dereliction of the state's constitutionally-mandated 'paramount duty' to educate its citizens."
    She said cuts proposed for community colleges would be devastating to thousands of students seeking higher education and to the instructors and colleges serving them.
    Nuxoll, who represents 54,000 members of the state's largest public employee union, also harshly criticized suggestions for reneging on a promised 3.5 percent pay raise for teachers and other school employees in 1992-93.
    "The elimination of this pay raise would have a disastrous effect on employee morale," she said.  "Perhaps more importantly, it would have a direct, debilitating effect on the very core of our public education system by forcing many fed-up employees to leave their school professions and by further inhibiting young people from pursuing teaching careers."
    Cutting essential state services should not be lawmakers' only consideration in dealing with the budget shortfall, Nuxoll emphasized.
    "We elect the governor and legislators to consider every alternative as they set state policy, yet few of them are willing to examine solutions that would make school budget cuts unnecessary -- solutions like using the $260 million rainy day fund, reforming the state's regressive tax system and closing tax loopholes for the wealthy.
    "Use of the rainy day fund would make up much of the anticipated deficit," Nuxoll said.  "Tax reform is an even more critical issue. Our tax system, with its heavy reliance on the sales tax, places an unfairly heavy burden on the poor and middle class.  In addition, the state treasury loses $5 billion a year as a result of tax loopholes and exemptions granted to big businesses and wealthy individuals in this state.
    "Why aren't lawmakers willing to examine these options instead of being so quick to recommend cuts that are sure to hurt hundreds of thousands of Washington citizens?"
    -0-                 11/18/91
    /CONTACT:  Teresa Moore of Washington Education Association, 206-946-4690 or 206-838-0944/ CO:  Washington Education Association ST:  Washington IN: SU: JH-BR -- SE012 -- 4713 11/18/91 18:53 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 18, 1991
Words:484
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