Wash. Lawmakers Submit 'Partial Plan' To Meet McCleary School Funding Mandate
State lawmakers aiming to meet an April 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court have delivered a report detailing its efforts to increase school funding from levels that justices have ruled are inadequate.
But while the high court had demanded a "complete plan" for how to add potentially $3.5 billion to Washington's K-12 budget by 2018 as part of its landmark McCleary decision, Tuesday's report did not lay out a detailed path forward for state lawmakers as they approach a budget session next January.
"I would argue this is a clear report about a partial plan," said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina. He says the report from a joint House and Senate committee details the work the Legislature has already done to address its shortcomings in education funding, clarifying some of the finer points.
The state's top elected school official, Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, blasted the proposal as short on detail. The committee's report, Dorn said in a statement, "says very little, and is far from complete. It isn’t even a plan."
"The Legislature," Dorn added later, "isn’t going to take its responsibility seriously unless the Court forces it to do so."
But Hunter, who also serves as chair of the House Appropriations Committee, says the work of meeting the court's McCleary mandate must happen during actual budget negotiations, not in a joint committee meeting between legislative sessions.
“This committee cannot come to that agreement, because the only way we demonstrate agreement in the Legislature is we pass legislation," Hunter said. "And that’s what we’re going to have to do next year.”