Members of the bipartisan work group convened by Gov. Jay Inslee last year have introduced legislation (House Bill 2366; Senate Bill 6195) that outlines the next steps for addressing K-12 funding reforms. The Legislature has been steadily increasing basic education funding over the past three years and is preparing to take on some of the most difficult aspects of funding reforms relating to local levies and compensation for educators.
The bicameral, bipartisan work group members were tasked by Inslee with developing a plan to fulfill the state’s constitutional obligation to adequately fund basic education. Reps. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington), Kristine Lytton (D-Anacortes), Chad Magendanz (R-Issaquah) and Norma Smith (R-Clinton) met throughout the fall with Sens. Ann Rivers (R-La Center), Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale), Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), Andy Billig (D-Spokane) and the governor’s office. At this time all but two of the work group members are signing on to the legislation.
“I am pleased to see that the bipartisan group I convened was able to find common ground and develop a good foundation for answering the very difficult questions related to our next steps for financing K-12 education,” Inslee said. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature this session and beyond on this important priority.”
“Though we left Olympia in July our work didn’t end. For the past few months, a bipartisan group of legislators were tasked with answering the Supreme Court’s request for a plan to meet our responsibility of fully funding basic education,” said Rep. Lytton. “Today we have a plan that moves us forward. But this is about more than meeting the Court’s request — this is about doing our jobs for Washington’s schoolchildren. The House has met every deadline we’ve set for ourselves and will continue to do so until our work is done.”
“I anticipate much of the legislative session will be spent discussing education funding,” said Sen. Rivers. “This bill provides the framework that will allow the dialogue to begin in earnest. We are absolutely committed to addressing education issues in our state.”
“This bill is critical to keep us moving forward,” said Sen. Rolfes. “It reflects a split Legislature. It identifies the issues we agree to work to resolve, and ensures that everyone is at the table for the next phase. This is progress. And the bill isn’t the only focus this session as we continue to work on closing the opportunity gap for struggling students, improving career and college readiness, and addressing the statewide teacher shortage.”
“Our state has made historic reforms and investments in its K-12 education system the last three years,” said Rep. Magendanz. “The bipartisan McCleary work group was created to examine what steps could be taken next. I’m satisfied with how the process played out, including an understanding that new, accurate data is needed to inform state lawmakers’ decisions. I look forward to the work ahead.”