Monday, January 13, 2014

Fuel, but no flame . . .
As Scott and Stacey said in comments to my post on the Supreme Court's response and direction to the legislature to speed up their basic education funding, maybe they are not feeling the heat.  With the threat of being held in contempt of court or other action there are too many unknowns in this uncharted area that may make it difficult to achieve consensus on any action in this short session.  At least that is what I am seeing in the responses thus far except for two Democrats suggestion in this Crosscut article.

. . . At a Friday Seattle City Club forum, House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, and Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said the Legislature needs to raise more money to meet its McCleary obligations. "The McCleary ruling was all about education funding," Sullivan said.

At the same meeting, however, there was a different response from two influential Republicans.

But at the same forum, Senate Majority Coalition Caucus Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish, said the McCleary ruling was not necessarily about funding, but about reforms to fix the education system. And they contended that Legislature should meet all of the McCleary obligations first before mapping out budgets for other state programs such as social services. House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, objects, saying Republicans would likely be unwilling to increase taxes to preserve social services.

As it suggests in the article this sounds like the stalemate we witnessed last year.  More of the same will not result in additional funding coming from this session.  That was reinforced for me listening to this interview of Senator Litzow, Senate Education Chair.  He shares how hard it is to reach consensus with 147 legislators especially in a short session.  He also reinforces the point that any new money will include additional reforms to fix a failing system.  So, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds, but it looks like the recent Court response may not be sufficient to create the heat necessary for finding additional revenue to meet the expectation for full funding of basic education.

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