Washington state schools chief Randy Dorn lambasted Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed education budget Tuesday, saying it falls far short of what the state Supreme Court has ordered lawmakers to do when it comes to how much money they provide to public schools.
In his budget, released Monday, Inslee said he wants to pay for all-day public kindergarten and reduce average class sizes in grades K-3. But he did not set any money aside for reducing the number of students per class in grades 4-12, which voters approved in the November election. And while Inslee suggests reinstating cost-of-living raises for teachers, Dorn says that’s not enough.
To meet the court’s requirements, Dorn said, lawmakers must fund a basic education for all students, without school districts having to contribute to those costs through local property tax levies.
“This issue is not complicated,” Dorn wrote. “Over and over again our courts have ruled that relying on levies to fund a major portion of our education system is unconstitutional.”
Dorn said Inslee’s proposal, if adopted, will lead the Supreme Court to sanction lawmakers.
He called on the Legislature to “take its constitutional obligation seriously.”
“If it does not, I believe the Supreme Court will do what is necessary on behalf of students, as unprecedented and unpleasant as that may be,” Dorn said.
When announcing a $2.3 billion increase in education spending for the 2015-17 biennium, Inslee did not say how he would pay for his proposals. He is unveiling his budget over four days, with Thursday devoted to explaining how he would raise more than $1 billion in taxes and other new revenue.