Washington Legislature Sends Long-Awaited K-12 Funding Fix to Governor
Washington state teachers might get a raise one year earlier than anticipated after legislators on Thursday sent Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee a budget that includes $750 million more this coming school year for public schools. Inslee's office has not said whether he will sign the bill or not.
The state's supreme court has been on the legislature's case for more than three years for failing to financially live up to its constitutional duty to provide its students an adequate education.
The state has expanded pre-K and kindergarten services in the aftermath of the court ruling but has dragged its feet in raising teachers' pay.
The state raised taxes during its spring 2017 session in order to increase the state's average teacher pay of $60,000 by the fall of 2019, but the court said that plan didn't go into effect soon enough. The court has said that if the state failed to provide teachers a raise by this fall, the court will increase its sanctions, including possibly shutting down the schools. Previous sanctions include fining the legislature $100,000 a day for every day its in session and doesn't come up with a plan.
The legislature's $2.4 billion budget raises no taxes but diverts money toward schools that would've otherwise gone into a savings account.
"We are investing not only in the well-being of us, the current generation, and the well-being of our communities, but we're investing in the future of the younger generation," Democratic Sen. Christine Rolfes who helped write the budget said, according to the Associated Press.