Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Some good news . . .

The Senate budget was released today and it had for me a surprising element of good news.  First, it included about $1 billion for K-12 in the first year, short of what many see as meeting the intent of the court in the McCleary decision, but more than many expected.  Second and very important to us, is the decision to first fund the new transportation formula and Materials, Supplies, and Operating Costs (MSOC) followed in later budgets with all day kindergarten and lowering K-3 class sizes.  This is the flexibility we were asking for and needing.  Thanks to those of you that contacted your Senators, they heard as we learn in this Washington State School Directors Association release.

In response to a question from the media, Hargrove said they chose to fund transportation and MSOC because school districts said it needed to be funded first and, without that initial investment, districts might not have the capacity to decrease class sizes. But he said smaller classes for lower grades will probably be part of the larger conversation.

The budget was not greeted positively by all however, as can be seen in this Seattle Times article.  It included cuts in some social services and did not include new revenue or continuation of taxes that are in the Governor's budget priorities.

“In addition to being unsustainable, some of their decisions seem downright cruel,” House Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said of the Senate proposal.

Inslee criticized the budget as well, saying in a statement, “This proposal is deeply flawed. It’s the same old game that relies on short-term fixes and budget tricks, and it results in policy choices that would take our state backward.”

We now wait to hear from the House with their budget expected next week.  This will be followed by the real "game" in Olympia as the budget power brokers then get together to fashion a compromise.  Our work is not complete.  It will be important for us to review each of the three budgets and make our thoughts known to our legislators on what we see as the budget components that best support our journey.

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