“Inaugural address focuses on education funding, acknowledges “many routes to the summit.”

As expected, Gov. Jay Inslee’s inaugural address emphasized the importance of full funding of basic education. With renowned mountain climber Jim Whittaker in attendance, Inslee’s speech built on a lot of climbing metaphors. 

Mountain climbers will tell you that every ascent has a crux move, the moment at which they face the hardest, most difficult pitch.

For us, this is that moment.

There are multiple routes we could take. I have proposed one that gets us there this year, a route based on what I’ve seen work as I’ve visited schools around the state.

He said later in the speech,

There are many routes to the summit. My plan isn’t the only way. I’ve been meeting with legislators this week and want to hear the ideas you have for getting this done.

As we’ve written, the session began with significant disagreement on the route to take, though there’s little dispute that education funding is the priority.

In the Seattle Times, Joseph O’Sullivan reports,

The Democratic governor’s remarks appeared to offer Republicans an olive branch at a time when legislators remain divided over how to fund education — and how much it will cost…

Even as he pitched his ambitious proposal for a 2017-19 state operating budget and McCleary solution, the governor in his speech acknowledged there were other paths toward finishing the job.

“His acknowledging that, I think, is great for everybody down here,” House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish said in a news conference after Inslee’s speech. There are several other ideas on how to fund education that might materialize soon, Kristiansen added.

The Associated Press reporting summarized the funding challenge and Inslee’s proposal.

Lawmakers have already put more than $2 billion toward the issue since the ruling, but the biggest piece remaining of the court order is figuring out how much the state must provide for teacher salaries. School districts currently pay a big chunk of those salaries with local property-tax levies.

Under Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal released last month, the state pays its part of that salary obligation.

The proposal seeks more than $5 billion in new revenue, with most of it — about $3.9 billion — dedicated to education-related costs. About $1 billion of that education funding would come from a proposed carbon tax that would charge the state’s emitters $25 per metric ton starting in 2018.

Republicans remain cool to the carbon and capital gains taxes at the heart of the governor’s revenue proposal, as the Times reports.

“We believe that if taxes become necessary they should have a high threshold,” Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, Adams County, said. “We are not the tax-first caucus.”

In other education news yesterday, new Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal wants his office removed from a lawsuit filed by his predecessor against several local school districts.

On his first day in office, state schools chief Chris Reykdal has directed lawyers to remove his agency from a lawsuit filed by his predecessor,Randy Dorn, against seven school districts over how they use money raised in local levies…

In a statement Wednesday, Reykdal said that under his leadership “our state’s lead education agency will not sue the very districts we are committed to supporting.”

Last year we wrote that the lawsuit was controversial, drawing mixed reviews from the editorial boards of major newspapers.