Costs of Senate basic education funding plan likely to increase; budget implications not yet clear

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Figuring out how much it’s going to cost to resolve the state Supreme Court’s McCleary order requiring full funding of basic education was never expected to be easy. After all, the legislative task force organized to recommend a plan concluded its work without agreement on a strategy.

Now, Joseph O’Sullivan reports in the Seattle Times that the comprehensive McCleary fix passed by the Senate will likely cost more than originally thought. 

Legislative staff discovered issues about a week ago with the Republican plan that is intended to satisfy the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision on school funding, said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Costs will climb, but the Braun still believes the GOP’s plan can be funded without new taxes.

The GOP plan would also put an additional $1.4 billion in existing revenue into the education system. 

But because of the newly discovered issues, Braun said that number could rise.

“There are some significant revisions to the numbers that will come out,” Braun said, adding that those revisions would be released soon. “This is based on feedback we got … after we released and heard and voted the bill out of the Senate.” 

In the revised version, “There is some additional cost, I tell you that,” Braun said. 

“But we still think that’s it’s manageable with existing [tax] revenues,” he added.

As the Times reports, several plans are in play.

The Republican plan is one of four proposed to address the McCleary decision and fully fund education. Gov. Jay Inslee and Democratic lawmakers each have issued their own plans. 

On Tuesday, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah also released his own proposal