Alexander: Schools-first budget plan would satisfy court ruling
GOP legislators say their plan would satisfy court’s ruling on full funding
Legislation requiring a separate state budget for public schools has been introduced in response to a court ruling that Washington isn’t doing enough to fund education.
House Bill 1174 would require the Legislature to pass a K-12 education budget and that the separate budget be signed by the governor before any other state spending is allocated. That proposal, made annually by Republicans in the House of Representatives since 2006 but turned aside each time, was introduced again last week by Reps. Gary Alexander and Cathy Dahlquist, who are Republicans. Alexander is from the Second District, which includes the Graham and Eatonville areas.
Dahlquist and Alexander said the proposed legislation, which requires approval by the House and Senate before it could take effect, would allow Washington to comply with the state Supreme Court ruling that was issued last year in the McCleary education funding court case.
HR 1174 wpuld:
• Meet funding requirements beginning in fiscal year 2014 and completing by fiscal year 2019.
• Fully fund all-day kindergarten ($349 million) and half of K-3 class-size enhancements ($575 million) in the 2013-15 biennium.
• Fund the remaining K-3 class-size enhancements ($576 million), additional 80 instructional hours for grades 7-12 ($211 million), and some materials, supplies and operating costs ($566 million) in the 2015-17 biennium.
• Fund the remaining enhancements ($989 million) and all pupil-transportation enhancements ($232 million) in the 2017-19 biennium.
• Increase the percentage of the state budget allocated to K-12 education, which is scheduled to receive 44 percent in the: current two-year budget
State Rep. Gary Alexander is an advocate of passing a separate state budget for pubic schools. (Michelle Pate/The Dispatch)
cycle. The Alexander-Dahlquist proposal would boost that percentage to 47.5 percent in the 2013-15 biennium, 50 percent in 2015-17 and 51 percent in 2017-19.
“Our legislation is the only proposal that will ensure we comply with the McCleary ruling,” said Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw and lead Republican on the House Education Committee. “If we fund our schools first, then we can go about the business of prioritizing the remainder of money taxpayers send to Olympia.”
Alexander, the lead Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said the state must stop “treating all tax dollar expenditures equally” and start “prioritizing education. We believe the state has to put more importance on the dollar we spend educating our children than the dollar we spend buying up more private land or more family leave – and the Supreme Court agrees.”
Dahlquist, who’s from Enumclaw, and Alexander participated on the interim Joint Task Force on Education Funding, which met eight times last year and submitted reports to the full Legislature. The legislation introduced last week by the two representatives was outlined in a minority report.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has pointed out that the Quality Education Council, a state advisory panel that includes his office, has proposed a plan for full funding of education by 2018. The plan would meet the court’s demand for evidence of how the Legislature can meet the funding requirements mandated by the justices.
“The longer we wait to fully fund basic education, the more students will fail to get the education they deserve,” Dorn said.