Seattle councilmember Mike O’Brien has a solution to state budget cutting that is both brilliant and profoundly moral. He’s produced a nice 4 minute video, which you can watch here:
The premise of O’Brien’s argument is that there’s something fundamentally wrong with state budgets that impoverish early childhood education, but still fund multi-billion dollar roads projects. (Of course, in addition to early childhood education there are many other vital government services that are starved for funds in a way that roads just are not.)
Luckily, there’s a way to remedy the problem. If legislators scale back state highway-building ambitions, that will free up gas tax revenue that can be re-programmed to cities for local road projects. (The state constitution earmarks gas tax money for roads.) More funding from the state to pay for city roads would mean that cities would need to spend less of their general fund money on transportation — and that in turn would free up local general fund dollars to pay for early childhood education or other worthwhile programs that benefit people directly.
It’s an elegant, if partial, solution that can shore up some of Washington’s badly underfunded social services and education programs. The only real question before policymakers is whether it’s more important to invest in people or asphalt.