Moving McCleary negotiations forward – Senate may vote on GOP proposal today

The Spokesman-Review reports that the Senate may vote on the GOP McCleary fix this afternoon.

The Senate may pass its first  bill today, a pace criticized by Democrats Wednesday morning before the chamber recessed until mid afternoon.

The bill that could be put to a vote is a big one, the Republicans’ overhaul of the way the state raises and spends money on public schools. It came out of the Ways and Means Committee Tuesday on a party-line vote and may get the same treatment in the full Senate.

And there-in lies the rub, because the Republicans have been down a couple of bodies for the last 10 days, after Sen. Brian Dansel of Republic resigned to take a full-time job with the U.S. Agriculture Department and Sen. Doug Ericksen has a temporary gig for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for which he hasn’t resigned but has been spending much of the time in Washington, D.C.

So,

Whether the Senate votes on the education overhaul bill later today will depend on the head count at 3:30 p.m. 

Whether today or later, the process moves forward. The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial board says it well,

Senate Republicans have established a reasonable place to begin thoughtful debate. 

“It is a positive move that they actually decided to put out a plan. Now that they put out a plan, finally we can start negotiating,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, a member of the bipartisan Education Funding Task Force.

Agreed, just as we welcomed the Democratic plans. 

Now the Legislature must fully focus on getting the task of fully funding education accomplished before the new budget year starts in July.

Of course, they acknowledge that being located in a rural part of the state, it’s a bit easier for them to “embrace or, at least, seriously consider the concept offered in the Republican plan.” 

Where the GOP plan runs into resistance is in the land-rich school districts in places such as Seattle, Bellevue and Mercer Island. 

We discussed the different tax impacts here

The Chronicle editorializes,

The Republicans’ plans for resolving what is known as the McCleary decision are innovative and precise in both identifying the current shortcomings of the system and shoring them up responsibly…

The legislation includes an exciting transformation in how the funding system operates. The state would shift to a per-student funding model, assigning additional resources to students with special needs and others who would require extra expenses within the public schools system.

Pay for teachers would increase substantially, and the burden of the cost of education would be more fairly spread across the state, whereas smaller school districts currently carry an unfair share. 

And, the editorial acknowledges, “there are promising and potentially effective elements” in the plans previously offered by the governor and House Democrats.

Right. Resolving the various approaches will not be easy, but we’re confident there will be a resolution this session.