Statement on SB 5077: Proposed Senate operating budget
OLYMPIA — April 1, 2015 — I have the same concerns with the Senate’s budget proposal that I had yesterday with the House of Representatives’ budget proposal.
The journey to fully fund basic education for our students began well more than a decade ago, highlighted by the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. The first concrete step in this journey was the passage of House Bill 2776. It should not be, nor was it ever intended to be, the only step.
I applaud the work done in the Senate budget proposal to fund HB 2776:
- It increases funding for materials, supplies and operating costs (MSOC);
- It pays for lower class sizes in grades K-3;
- It pays for full-day kindergarten; and
- It increases funding for the Highly Capable Program.
However, this budget proposal falls short of fully funding basic education in a number of key areas:
- It does not lower class sizes in grades 4-12, which was approved by the voters last fall.
- There is neither reduction in class size nor increase in MSOC for Career and Technical Education students.
- It does not adequately fund more than 20,000 existing school employees, such as teaching assistants, custodians and technology staff.
Just as important, the proposal does not address the need to reduce reliance on local levies. In fact, in terms of compensation, it increases the reliance on levy funds.
The Senate proposal includes a long overdue cost-of-living adjustment, which I support, but the COLA is only for the personnel funded by the state. School districts will be forced to use levy money to provide similar increases to those staff funded with local funds. But it’s the state’s responsibility to fund employees who provide basic education. Passing off this obligation to districts puts a burden on local taxpayers.
That is unfair – and inequitable. It will lead to differential opportunities that will transcend educational issues and become a civil rights issues.
The state is currently in contempt of court because it has failed to adopt a complete plan showing how it intends to fully fund basic education by 2018 without the use of levies. In no way can this budget be considered a complete plan.
In 2014, the Legislature assured the Supreme Court that it would reach “a grand agreement” on education funding this session, asking the Court to wait on possible sanctions. I concurred so that the legislature would have time this session to act.
But now we are in the fourth quarter of the session. We’re still waiting.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine educational service districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI provides equal access to all programs and services without discrimination based on sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability. Questions and complaints of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Equity and Civil Rights Director at (360) 725-6162 or P.O. Box 47200, Olympia, WA 98504-7200.
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