Moderate Democrats in the Senate pitch a fourth education-funding proposal, adding to the confusion as lawmakers try to resolve the landmark McCleary case.
Keeping up with the state Legislature’s efforts to finally resolve Washington’s school-funding crisis didn’t get any easier this week.
First, lawmakers attempted to explain how they spent $500,000 to find a final fix to the landmark McCleary case — without ever approving a formal proposal.
Then, Senate Republicans admitted their preferred plan to fully fund K-12 education would cost more than originally projected.
Exactly how much more? No one seems to agree on an exact dollar figure. But Democrats seized on the confusion to criticize Republicans for moving their proposal too quickly through the state Senate, which the GOP controls.
And then, as staffers at the Capitol continued to crunch the numbers, moderate Democrats in the Senate put forward their own plan to try to reach some middle ground between the GOP’s pitch, Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed solution and the one crafted by House Democrats, which is working its way through the Democrat-controlled House.
Is your head spinning yet?
If there is any agreement, it seems to rest on the need for new taxes “to help cover the state’s unpaid tab for public schools,” as Jerry Cornfield reports in The Herald.
With four plans on the table now, deciding who should pay those taxes offers the harder political task for lawmakers.
Elsewhere in Olympia, lawmakers debated whether the state should pay for lead testing in drinking water at public schools.
And on Wednesday, a group of Washington public agencies, businesses and education nonprofits announced they would try to raise enough money to help thousands of low-income students who lost federal financial aid to cover the cost of college-level exams.
Next week, lawmakers face a Feb. 24 deadline to pass key bills out of fiscal committees and onto the House and Senate floors.