As we’ve seen in years past, and have come to expect from our state’s “leaders,” Gov. Jay Inslee’s education budget proposal again falls far short of what is needed to comply with the orders issued by the Supreme Court inMcCleary v Washington. It makes no substantial progress toward the full funding of basic education.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly demanded that the Legislature develop a plan for full funding. In fact, they sanctioned the state $100,000 per day for failing to produce a plan that, by 2018, would fully fund basic education without the use of local levies. There is still no plan. And when session starts, the state will owe $14 million in fines.
In April, I released a complete plan to fully fund basic education for all students. When I submitted my 2016 legislative budget request on November 2, I proposed the state increase funding by about $173 million to stay on track to full funding.
Working without a plan, Inslee proposes an increase of about $87 million.
Now, it’s not all bad. Inslee does fund some increases to Jobs for Washington’s Graduates, CorePlus, Career and Technical Education, Healthiest Next Generation initiative, language access for families and discipline equity. And he did raise beginning teacher salaries and increase funding for mentoring to help decrease our state’s teacher shortage.
But while all of those things are good, Inslee continues to avoid the real issue ofMcCleary.
Although salaries are an element of basic education and should be paid for by the state, the state now pays only a portion of what school employees actually earn. In his budget, Inslee actually digs school districts into a deeper hole because a salary increase applies to a teacher’s total salary, not just the amount covered by the state. That places an additional burden on districts to come up with the difference.
I’m tired of sounding like a broken record. I’m tired of the so-called leaders of our state ignoring this serious problem. Who is going to step up and do what’s right for the kids in our state?
The Legislature will be releasing their budget proposals soon. Based on experience, I’m not optimistic.