House OK’s K-12 Reform Bill, Calls for Negotiations with Senate

In Olympia Wednesday afternoon, lawmakers took a big step toward fully funding K-12 schools. Dan Frizzell has that story.

House Democrats released their sweeping education-reform bill last week, and after several days of public input took it to the House floor Wednesday.  To no one’s great surprise, the chamber OK’d it on a party-line vote after a couple of hours’ debate.  Republicans fought hard for an amendment that could have hit Washingtonians with $11 billion dollars in new taxes.  That Republican tax increase failed, along with several other floor amendments.  The bill that finally emerged calls for smaller classes, more counselors, beefed up career and technical instruction, pay raises for teachers, and a number of other reforms that supporters said were badly needed and long overdue.  House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan of Covington was a lead author of the bill, along with Representative Kristine Lytton of Anacortes. Here’s Sullivan:

“People reference this, they call this the McCleary bill, they say that this is the fix to get us out of contempt of court.  But what this bill is really about is, it’s about our students.  This is about our next generation, preparing them as doctors, scientists, engineers, our future leaders. And this bill makes significant investments to close the opportunity gap so all students have access to programs that will benefit them and benefit our state. “

With Wednesday’s vote, the hard work of hammering out a compromise can begin in earnest, with two months and a day remaining in before the Legislature adjourns for the year on April 23. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.