The legislative new year begins Monday. The 60-day regular session has a short, manageable must-do agenda. Preserving public charter schools is at the top of the list, along with adopting a supplemental budget and addressing the state Supreme Court’s McCleary mandate to increase school funding.
The first hearing on a bipartisan public charter school proposalis scheduled for Tuesday in the Senate Education Committee. TheNational Alliance for Public Charter Schools released a statement commending the sponsors, saying “Their proposed legislation restores much of the policy encompassed by the charter public school law passed by ballot initiative 1240 in 2012, along with some critical updates in funding. “
Lawmakers must also adopt a supplemental budget. Gov. Inslee released his proposal last month, along with a separate plan for increasing teacher salaries and repealing tax exemptions. The Washington Research Council has published an initial analysis. The changes required to adopt a balanced supplemental budget are manageable. We’re unlikely to see passage of any major new fiscal initiative in this election-year session.
Legislative leaders tell us not to expect comprehensive changes in school funding this year. The Associated Press reports, “Legislative leaders said Thursday they still haven’t resolved where to find the money to reform the way the state pays for education, and likely won’t get there until the 2017 Legislature.” That doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of discussion, including how to respond to the state Supreme Court’s demand for a plan. But the issues remaining–how much money is required, what to do about local levies, and how to handle compensation–are complex and contentious.
It may be a short session, but there’s a lot going on.
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