Education funding “plan for a solution” comes together; challenges await 2017 Legislature

Senate passage of SB 6915 Tuesday puts the “plan for a plan/solution” on track for swift approval. Crosscut reports,  

Passage in the Senate all but guarantees the bill will be signed into law. A companion bill with nearly identical language passed out of the House early in the session 64-34, meaning that unless the Democrats who control the House have had a major change of heart, the Senate version will have more than enough votes to pass. After that, it would only need the signature of  the governor – and Inslee has been a loud supporter for the legislation came from a task force Inslee himself established.

As Crosscut reporter Tom James writes, there was some controversy over the deadline for weaning schools from dependence on local property tax levies. But the Senate got past that, passing the measure 26-23 with the original deadline back in.

…the bill formally extends the work of Inslee’s education task force and provides a quarter million dollars to analyze the funding requirements of local schools, including breaking down teacher compensation by region. Figuring out how to work teacher compensation into a new statewide system will be a major task in fulfilling the McCleary obligations.

Inslee praised the Senate’s passage of the measure, as well as the House’s work on its version of the bill.

We wrote about the plan January 19. Critics charged that it was just another example of lawmakers punting tough problems to the next session. That characterization didn’t seem fair to us.

But, as we wrote earlier, it was never realistic to expect major funding decisions and commitments to be made during this short session…Pragmatically, a “plan for coming to a solution” might just be the best outcome this year.

Armed with better information, next year’s Legislature will come to grips with some tough funding challenges. The “best outcome” appears to have been achieved.