City Council supports school financing, rejects minimum wage support 1by Jack Mayne The Burien City Council spent a long time honing and refashioning its goals for dealing with the local, state and federal governments, seeking a federal increase in its minimum wage, but rejecting an increase in the state minimum wage. The Council also endorsed full state support for financing of schools. At the beginning of the Monday night (Oct. 19) session was a presentation by three members of the Highline High School Robotics Team 5374, including a demonstration of their latest robot seen in the video below: [youtube]https://youtu.be/FZwjeu6Jdqo[/youtube] Resident seeks school support As the Council began its discussion of the city’s 2016 regional, state and federal legislative agenda, resident Meg Van Wyk said the state is asking the school district to “spend a tremendous amount of money on initiatives, including things like common core, the new teacher evaluation and now they are starting a new agenda.” But she said she was “really passionate about Highline High School, which really needs to be replaced. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars this district is going to have to find to fund all of this. This district doesn’t have it. Van Wyk told the Council that legislators are “masters of stalling down there.” She asked the Burien Council to “start exerting some pressure because we cannot wait for another decade to get going on building our schools.” She said it would “be absolutely awesome” if the Council was the first city to support asking the state to fully finance education. ‘Strong relationships’ The legislative goals process took up the majority of the two-plus hour meeting. Those goals sought to maintain “strong relationships” with state and federal legislators and to “identify and advocate for new opportunities for policy or funding programs.” Some of the Council’s goals include a regional one connecting “Burien via Light Rail Transit to Sea-Tac Airport and West Seattle,” and state legislative goals of accelerating funding for the SR 518 Interchange to the current 2015-17 biennium. Another state goals is to get the Legislature to appropriate “$2 million to convert existing grass sports fields into year-round, multi-purpose artificial turf fields that support baseball, football and soccer.” Other state legislative goals the Burien Council wants include continued financing of mental health services, more money to support increased costs mandated by the State Supreme Court on local public defenders. The Council also wants continued financial help to “help provide cost recovery” for the growing cost of fulfilling electronic records requests and for public records “that are clearly for a commercial purpose.” Minimum wage hike Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz wanted to add support for increasing the state minimum wage and full school financing and asking state law changes to allow cities to impose rent control and to seek a statewide graduated income tax. She did not get a second. Then Councilmember Gerald Robison proposed a similar legislative goal, to seek continued and increased state funding for homelessness, human and mental health an addiction services. Robison said the issues were a statewide responsibility and not just left on local governments. The change was adopted unanimously. Then Robison moved to include a goal to get the Washington Legislature to fully finance schools to “meet the needs of Highline students.” The state is already facing a $100,000 a day fine for not doing what the state constitution requires, the full financing of common schools, including school construction, issues state lawmakers have so far ignored. That amendment also passed unanimously. Minimum wage and taxes Next, Berkowitz moved to add to their legislative goals that the Legislature increase the state minimum wage, currently $9.47 and the nation’s highest, although the District of Columbia has voted to increase its minimum in mid-2016 to $10.50. Berkowitz said there has been no movement to increase the state or federal minimum wage and that Burien “is surrounded” by cities with higher minimum wages so people have to leave the city to earn the money they need to support themselves. Robison said he did not think raising the state minimum wage “would accomplish the goals attributed to it.” The Council decided it would not support a motion to increase the state wage, but that it would support having discussions in the Legislature. The Council did approve Berkowitz’s move to seek increasing the federal minimum wage be added to the federal support list. But she did not get Council backing on adding a state legislative goal seeking a graduated income tax because the “most regressive tax you can have is the sales tax and Washington is one of the most regressive states” with its primary producer of revenue being the sales tax. Berkowitz wanted to urge the Legislature to allow cities to make decisions on controlling rents in their jurisdiction. Her motion failed 5 – 2. Robison sought an amendment to its federal goals to support “bill that will address aircraft noise around airports.” Wagner suggested adding aircraft emissions to the goal. The Council unanimously approved the addition. State income tax? Robison said the state’s long aversion to the income tax is an issue “we have to grow and face.” The graduated income tax forces the poor to pay nearly 10 percent while they would be exempted from an income tax. But members generally did not like the idea of the long rejected income tax. Earlier, the Council, acting in its extra legal authority of a Transportation Benefit District (TBD), elected Councilmember Debi Wagner the chairman of the TBD board. The members were told of the use of the district to oversee and expend funds for transportation related bond issues. As the TBD, the Council had not met since 2010. The Council selected Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta to be the voting delegate to the National League of Cities (NLC) annual business meeting Nov. 3-7 in Nashville, Tenn. Berkowitz wanted to urge the Legislature to allow cities to make decisions on controlling rents in their jurisdiction. Her motion failed 5 – 2. Robison sought an amendment to its federal goals to support “bill that will address aircraft noise around airports.” Wagner suggested adding aircraft emissions to the goal. The Council unanimously approved the addition.]]>