FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Feb. 20, 2012
OLYMPIA — Republicans say their priority is to fund education first. Yet, instead of focused discussion on funding K-12 education — as ordered by the state Supreme Court McCleary decision — Republicans who control the Early Learning & K-12 Committee spent the first seven weeks of session hearing bills that whittle away at basic education. These measures expect more from schools and create new mandates, but offer no new funding.
“We are happy to work with the other side to consider additional measures that can deliver outcomes for our kids,” said Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, ranking education committee member. “But, our number one focus should be paying for the existing reforms we know will work. Unfortunately, Republicans have avoided discussing how to fund current expectations for our schools. Our goal is to close the opportunity gap by improving student achievement so that every child is career and college ready. Funding education and getting results for our children are our constitutional and moral obligations.”
Other Democrats on the committee, Sens. Andy Billig, Christine Rolfes, and Annette Cleveland, concurred with McAuliffe’s statement.
In the McCleary decision, the Washington Supreme Court validated reforms Democrats had put in place as the correct path to success in education. And, as strongly as the court has validated the reform plan, it has been even stronger in emphasizing that the next common-sense step is to implement that plan with proper funding.
Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would move down that path. Senate Bills 5570, 5573, 5117 and 5038 lay the groundwork for a transparent discussion about priorities, accountability and adequate funding. These bills would act on the recommendations of two task forces set up by the Legislature to tackle the funding challenge.
Even after attempts to work with them, Republicans chose not to hear most of these bills and failed to address the state’s paramount duty to fund education — and instead passed bills that impose new reform prior to paying for those on the books.
Visit the Senate Democratic Caucus website for a comprehensive overview of the SDC’s K-12 education position.
For more information: Alison Dempsey-Hall, 360.786.7887
For interviews: Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, 360.786.7600