State Superintendent Randy Dorn calls governor’s education budget insufficient

Gov. Jay Inslee’s education budget proposal falls far short of what is needed to comply with the orders issued by the Supreme Court in McCleary v Washington.

  • Wednesday, December 17, 2014 12:47pm
  • Opinion

Statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn:

Gov. Jay Inslee’s education budget proposal falls far short of what is needed to comply with the orders issued by the Supreme Court in McCleary v Washington. If adopted, it would move this state one step closer to a constitutional crisis.

This issue is not complicated: Over and over again our courts have ruled that relying on levies to fund a major portion of our education system is unconstitutional. The Governor’s proposal does not address that central fact. As the Court wrote: “If the State’s funding formulas provide only a portion of what it actually costs a school to pay its teachers, get kids to school, and keep the lights on, then the legislature cannot maintain that it is fully funding basic education through its funding formulas. (McCleary v State of Washington, p. 60)

“The fact that local levy funds have been at least in part supporting the basic education program is inescapable….. Reliance on levy funding to finance basic education was unconstitutional 30 years ago… and it is unconstitutional now.” (Ibid., p. 68)

In September, the Supreme Court held the state in contempt for not producing a plan that, by 2018, would fully fund basic education without the use of local levies. The Court, however, gave the state one last chance – the 2015 legislative session – to comply without imposing sanctions.

In response, Gov. Inslee proposes to increase funding for a long list of educational programs that I support. He also proposes to fully fund the elements contained in Substitute House Bill 2776::

• All-day kindergarten

• Class size reduction in grades K-3

• Student transportation

• Full funding of Materials, Supplies, and Operating Costs

These are positive enhancements, but HB 2776 was just the first step towards full state funding of education. Funding the elements of 2776 alone does not satisfy our obligation under the constitution. The Governor offers no plan on how he intends fund reduced class sizes in grades 4-12, required as part of the prototypical school model envisioned by SHB 2261, and by Initiative 1351. Nor does the Governor address state funding of the compensation of education staff that levies currently fund.

It is important to remember that the court was clear in identifying the state’s obligation. That consists of an education system that does not rely on local levy funds, and which is consistent with the prototypical school model envisioned in SHB 2261. The model is derived from earlier “evidenced-based” research on funding adequacy, and includes class size levels virtually identical to those included in Initiative 1351. As the Court wrote: “The prototypical school model for Washington was originally set forth in the Picus and Odden report, which the Basic Education Finance Task Force relied on in making its recommendations to the legislature. The task force’s recommendations in turn provided the framework for the funding model under ESHB 2261.” (McCleary v. Washington, p. 72)

In short, the Governor’s proposal is far short of the complete plan the Court has ordered, and will, in my opinion, lead to sanctions by the Supreme Court if adopted.

Two weeks ago I sent the Governor a detailed letter expressing my view on what would be the minimum amount of new funding needed in the next budget to make sufficient progress towards full state funding. I am disappointed that the Governor has not chosen to fund that which the Court has stated is required.

In writing the budget I hope the Legislature will take its constitutional obligation seriously. If it does not, I believe the Supreme Court will do what is necessary on behalf of students, as unprecedented and unpleasant as that may be.

More in Opinion

The times, they are a-changin’

My friends, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing in such leaps and bounds it boggles my imagination.

Thank you Murray for increasing Alzheimer’s research funding

As someone who helped care for a mother with Alzheimer’s and who now misses her every day, I understand firsthand the impact this disease has on families across America.

Tribalism led to the loss of Vietnam, Iraq wars

Knowing and understanding tribalism can offer a solution to the divisions at home and abroad.

The Fennel Creek Trail will benefit nearby communities

Contrary to the beliefs of some, the increased number of people using trails discourages criminal activities by increasing the number of eyes watching what is going on.

The sweetest revenge? Sometimes it’s just being nice

Being kind to others, especially those who have harmed or hurt us, comes as a result of seeing others as our equals.

Mental health competency delays cost state millions

Soon, some of those languishing lengthy periods behind bars might need to be released and charges against them dismissed.

State Dems may abandon caucus chaos in 2020

Last week the state Democratic Party signaled a greater ope nness to allocate delegates ba sed on the results of the prim ary rather than caucuses, whic h it’s never done before.

The four cornerstones of arguing irrationally

Don’t get caught up in the techniques people use to ignore rational arguments.

State Dems may abandon caucus chaos in time for 2020

Washington also is considering becoming more significant by moving its primary to early March.

A taste of Krain history, from its dive-bar days

I first went in the place one winter’s evening when I was 8 or 9 years old.

Supreme Court resets the playing field

The ruling on the Masterpiece Bakery v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case wasn’t a win for the right or a loss for the left; it’s a chance to do things right the second time around.

Supreme Court ruling shows sanity, moderation

The 14th Amendment equal protection clause does not negate the First Amendment religious freedom clause.