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— filed under: ,

Senate Skimps on Education Funding

Posted by kimj at Apr 09, 2013 05:35 PM |
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Although Senate leaders claim their proposed budget spends $1 billion to start meeting a court mandate to bolster school funding, a closer look reveals a much smaller investment of only $760 million in the next two year budget cycle. 

In its McCleary ruling, the state Supreme Court ordered policymakers to make progress toward fully funding basic education by 2018. The Legislature’s Joint Task Force on Education Funding  recommended investments over the next two years that would:

  • Create a new funding formula for transporting kids to school ($141.6 million);
  • Equip schools with up-to-date textbooks and curriculum, and keep school buildings maintained ($597 million);
  • Reduce class sizes in kindergarten through third grade($219 million);
  • Phase in full-day kindergarten ($89.3 million);
  • Add more classroom time for students and give them an  opportunity to earn 24  credits by graduation ($140.4 million);
  • Increase staff pay ($169.8 million).

As the graph below shows, the Senate’s budget proposal falls short of those recommendations. While it would make meaningful investments in transportation and basic school operating costs, there isn't a dime for reducing class sizes, extra class time so students can earn more credits, or increasing staff salaries— core components of meeting our constitutional obligation and critical to the educational success of kids. 

Senate on education

The Senate proposal even goes backward in one area, proposing  to eliminate cost-of-living salary adjustments for teachers, which would  jeopardize our ability to attract the best talent to our classrooms.

Another plan proposed in the Senate would fund education by starving all other vital investments, like public safety, support for seniors, and a clean environment. Read more here.

Much more needs to be done to make progress  toward improving our public schools, which is estimated to cost $4.5 billion a biennium once fully funded by 2018, and even more if we include investments to make salaries for teachers competitive.  

It should be obvious that this cannot be done without additional resources. A better course than the one proposed by the Senate would be to repeal outdated tax breaks that don’t meet public priorities and use the revenue  to fund education and continue our commitments to seniors, children, and people with disabilities, as Governor Inslee proposed.

New video on education funding and the McCleary decision - watch it here.


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