In less than 24 hours last week, lawmakers passed a controversial piece of legislation with healthy majorities in both chambers – a feat that is rare at any time except when they are nearing the end of a session and are eager to get the heck out of Dodge.
Normally, they would strain their rotator cuffs from self-congratulatory back-patting. But the accomplishment was tempered by the fact that those 24 hours came after nearly two months of partisan plotting and sniping on the issue, which doesn’t bode well for the bigger task ahead.
The legislation was a one-year delay in the impending reduction in school districts’ taxing authority…
Camden goes on to say the levy cliff resolution should be viewed as the easy, probably inevitable, part of this year’s school funding deliberations. (That’s a view shared by at least some educators.) He concludes,
When it comes to wagers on whether the Legislature will finish in the allotted time, Spin Control always bets the over. In six of the last seven years, that’s been the winning bet, and we’re pretty confident it will be this year, too.
Seattle Times editorial page editor Kate Riley says that lawmakers have all the information they need to get the job done.
Now, without the will-they-or-won’t-they drama of legislative action to delay the levy cliff, lawmakers should have little to distract them from solving the McCleary issue. They need to synthesize all the studies they’ve commissioned, the testimony they have received, inoculate themselves against special interest extremes (yes, they are on both sides) and settle their brains and hearts on Washington’s children and their education.
She reviews the plans on offer so far and concludes with what we suspect is a widely shared opinion.
Somewhere in all that is the solution. Invest in Washington’s children in ways that make an authentic difference. Today, on what is the 63rd day of the 105-day session, it is time to settle this.
The Spokesman-Review agrees it’s time to settle the issue and believes it should be resolved with more money, better spent.
A student-centered model would distribute dollars where they are needed most. It would give disadvantaged children more pathways to success. It would also boost gifted students, who need more challenges.
Lawmakers have injected billions of new dollars into education in recent years. They are about to add a lot more. They should make sure that money will make a difference in the lives of students.
Eventually, we presume, lawmakers will reach agreement on how best to provide additional school funding in the neighborhood of $3.5 billion from the state. Republicans have put forth a detailed plan that would include a statewide property-tax levy and that, they say, would cut property taxes for a majority of residents when local levies are eliminated or reduced. The idea provides a template for negotiations and is a reasonable starting point. Democrats have proposed tax increases but have been short on details.
In truth, having a bipartisan Legislature with the chambers controlled by competing parties is beneficial for the people of Washington. The political wrangling and the legislative give-and-take eventually will result in the best possible plan, one that is born of compromise and negotiation.
We agree with much of this: It’s good to have the issue of the levy cliff resolved; lawmakers have all the information they need; and the resolution to McCleary includes spending wisely, with accountability, not just adding dollars to the current structure. And, unfortunately, getting that done may mean this sessions goes into overtime.