So, perhaps what's confused me about proposing a property tax levy swap as a tool for satisfying the legal demands of the McCleary decision, is that I've always been focused on making "ample provision for the education of all children," whereas levy swap advocates appear to be more focused on meeting the legal demands of McCleary.
That's an important distinction. "Some lawmakers interpret the ruling as requiring an additional $1 billion annually for the K-12 system," the Seattle Times editorial board writes, refusing to acknowledge that McCleary even requires an extra billion or three in K-12 spending. With that mindset one can understand why a proposal to increase state K-12 spending by a billion dollars without actually increasing K-12 spending (or taxes!) might be so attractive.
The immediate crisis isn't the woeful underfunding of our public schools, it's McCleary itself! It hadn't really occurred to me before, but if they can meet McCleary without dramatically increasing total K-12 spending, that would be just fine by many lawmakers.
The point is, don't presume that McCleary guarantees adequate let alone ample funding for our public schools. The billions necessary to meet the spirit of McCleary would require substantial new taxes and/or deep cuts to social services, neither of which enjoys much legislative or popular support. So if legislators can find a way to meet the letter of of McCleary on the cheap, that's the solution that we'll likely get.