State House Moves Toward McCleary-Compliant Education Plan

The divided Legislature in Olympia is about to tackle its biggest job this year: reconciling very different plans to fund public schools and satisfy the Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling. Dan Frizzell has that story.

Democrats hold the majority in the state House in Olympia, and it’s their job to produce a plan to reinvent public education in Washington.  They made that plan public two weeks ago, and by early next week it should pass out of the House and head for the Republican-controlled Senate.  The Senate GOP, meanwhile, came up with their own proposal and passed it over to the House on a party-line vote.  That proposal, however, has been plagued by math problems that range into the billions of dollars. It apparently hikes taxes but somehow spends less on schools.  Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan of Covington was a lead on the joint education-funding task force, and he talked to reporters Tuesday after studying the Senate plan.

“The Senate Republican plan right now is underfunded by about one-point-four billion, despite that it’s a significant property tax increase for a number of taxpayers.  On the budget side they haven’t shown where they’re going to make those one-point-four billion dollars in reductions.  On both sides we’re going to have to produce a budget that balances.”

When the competing plans are both out on the table, Sullivan said, negotiators from the House and Senate can begin the give-and-take process that legislators hope will produce a balanced budget and fully funded public schools by the time the Legislature adjourns for the year on April 23.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.