The Washington Legislature’s regular session ends in just nine days, but we remain nowhere close to a final McCleary resolution.
It was a slow — even slower than usual — week when it comes to news about the Legislature’s ongoing effort to fix Washington state’s broken school-finance system.
Lawmakers have just nine days until the end of their regular session — and there’s no agreement in sight, at least publicly. That means that lawmakers, as many have predicted since the Legislature convened in January, likely will enter at least one special session.
But this week did bring some interesting perspectives from students and teachers airing their frustration over the status quo on social media.
Here’s a roundup of the McCleary action over the past week:
With the clock ticking on the regular session, the Peninsula Daily News on Monday reported on how little progress has been made in negotiations over the state’s biennial budget.
Any final compromise must include a plan to fully fund public schools to satisfy the Supreme Court order in McCleary. But Democrats in control of the House and the GOP-led Senate still haven’t resolved exactly how much to spend on K-12 education and what kind of tax package should pay for it.
The difference in spending between the two chambers’ budgets is about $1.6 billion, according to the public-radio Northwest News Network. And while Democrats prefer new and higher taxes for the wealthy and some businesses, Republicans want to raise the amount of state money going into public schools by creating a statewide property tax, which would replace much of what’s now raised through local school-district levies. (While state school spending would increase, in other words, local spending would go down, with less net increase than Democrats are proposing. )
On Wednesday, The (Everett) Herald reminded eight lawmakers representing each party’s House and Senate caucuses that “someone is watching” their behind-closed-doors negotiations on school funding.
They’ve been meeting since early March to hammer out a deal. But The Herald reported that significant disagreement remains on how to define basic education in Washington and what it means to “amply” fund it.
Meanwhile, on social media, students and teachers took advantage of the moment to air their frustration over the budget debate.
At Nathan Hale High School in Seattle, graphic arts teacher Alex Snyder thought there wasn’t enough attention paid to the lack of funding for smaller class sizes and what it means for students.
So, two weeks ago he created a new Instagram account (@portraitsofthefuture) to share pictures of his students and their future ambitions.
“Our goal is to put a face and a profile to these public-school students so that the public can see why it’s so important to focus on our schools,” Snyder wrote in an email.
About 40 miles northeast of Seattle, Sultan Senior High student Jordan Sears joined the #waleg fray on Twitter and started calling lawmakers out for not doing their jobs.
We’ll soon see whether voices like his make a difference in Olympia.