Our students deserve a quality education. This is a commitment we must make. Washington State’s Constitution is clear – education is the paramount duty of the state. House Republicans believe education should be funded first, not last. We shouldn’t have to bet on a tax increase to fund it.
Since 2006, House Republicans have introduced legislation to Fund Education First in the state’s budget process. On Jan. 5, the need to Fund Education First was affirmed by the Washington State Supreme Court in its decision on McCleary v. State. The case challenged the adequacy of current state funding for K-12 education under article IX, section 1 of the Washington State Constitution. The Supreme Court reiterated that the state must “amply provide for the education of all Washington children as the State’s first and highest priority before any other State programs or operations.” The courts have also ruled that programs and offerings that fall within the Legislature’s definition of “basic education” are considered nondiscretionary and must be funded regardless of budgetary constraints.
Our Fund Education First proposal
House Republicans proposed House Bill 2533 this year to Fund Education First. The bill was heard Jan. 31. It requires that K-12 education funding be separately approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor before any other appropriations are made. This bill would take the politics out of education.
In the hearing, the legislation received broad support from education advocates.
Rep. Bruce Dammeier, our ranking Republican on education, said, “I believe all of our students deserve it, our constitution demands it, and our economic prosperity is dependent on it.” You can watch Dammeier’s testimony here.
Rep. Gary Alexander, our ranking Republican on the budget, said, “We must not be afraid of changing the budgetary status quo in Olympia. We know the people of this state value education very highly, the court has ruled that it’s the state’s paramount duty, and House Republicans believe it is the tool to lift our citizens out of poverty and allow them to pursue their dreams.” Alexander plans to release an operating budget proposal soon.
Our education budget
On Thursday, Feb. 2, we unveiled our education budget proposal, House Bill 2770, the first budget proposed in the 60-day session. Watch or listen to the press conference below. Participants of the conference include: Reps. Bruce Dammeier, Cathy Dahlquist, Gary Alexander and Charles Ross.
Video, courtesy TVW:
Education is the great equalizer. House Republicans believe the answer to lifting people out of poverty is to invest in education first.
There is precedence for a separate education budget. The state currently enacts three separate budgets—operating, capital, and transportation.
By the numbers…
Governor’s Education Budget:
$13.08 billion for K-12 Education
House Republican Education Budget: (introduced Feb. 2)
$13.66 billion for K-12 Education
Makes up 43 percent of the total operating budget
House Democrat Education Budget: (as passed floor Feb. 29)
$13.22 billion for K-12 Education
Reform and accountability
We have introduced or supported several policies to provide education reform and accountability in conjunction with our education budget:
- House Bill 1414 would allow school districts to waive certain unfunded mandates.
- House Bill 2165 would provide professional development for a new teacher/principal evaluation system.
- House Bill 2427 would implement revised teacher/principal evaluation systems.
- House Bill 2506 would provide flexibility and accountability for bilingual and learning assistance programs.