Part One in a series on our new policy brief, A Paramount Duty: Funding Education for McCleary and Beyond.
The State Supreme Court’s decision in McCleary v. State mandated a significant boost in K-12 school funding. However, there are a variety of perspectives on how the state can fulfill the requirements of the McCleary
ruling. While all of them come with different price tags, it is clear
that new revenue will be needed to abide by the ruling.
Funding core enhancements
Additional funding is needed in four core areas: full-day kindergarten; K-3 class size
reduction; maintenance, supplies, and operating costs; and
transportation. To fund these enhancements, the cost is estimated at $1 billion in the 2013-15
budget, growing to $3.3 billion by 2017-19. The phase-in of these enhancements was laid out in House Bill 2776, which was signed into law in 2010.
Task Force recommendations
Another assessment concluded that more is needed. The Joint Task Force on Education Funding, established by the legislature, estimates
that it will take $1.4 billion in the next two-year budget cycle and
$4.5 billion by 2017-19 to meet our obligations.
Additionally, in order to recruit and retain quality educators, they need competitive compensation. A proposal by The Compensation Technical Working Group (TWG),
authorized as part of HB 2261, recommends higher starting pay for
teachers, competitive salaries, annual cost of living adjustments, and
increased time for training and professional development, among other
enhancements. These investments are estimated to cost an additional $2.8 billion per fiscal year once fully implemented.
Need for revenue
To meet the requirements of McCleary, Washington state needs new revenue. There are things we can do right now to begin to address our obligations. A new state tax on capital gains could raise about $700 million per year in new resources. Policymakers could also extend tax increases passed in 2010 that are set to expire, generating $630 million in the next budget cycle.
For more information, check out our policy brief, A Paramount Duty: Funding Education for McCleary and Beyond