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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

November 8, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Class-size measure widens lead in weekend vote count

The statewide initiative to reduce K-12 class sizes widened its lead Saturday.

As of Saturday evening, I-1351 was passing with 50.5 percent of the vote, a lead of 18,495 votes.

The widening margin is due largely to the measure’s popularity in King County, where more votes were counted Saturday and I-1351 has now captured 54.5 percent of the vote.

The morning after the election, I-1351 trailed statewide by about 13,000 votes. The momentum has since turned in the measure’s favor.

Initiative 1351 would set lower class sizes at every grade level. Backers say it would make sure class sizes are part of basic education funding.

Critics of the initiative said it was too expensive. State financial experts believe the measure would eventually cost the state about $2 billion a year to pay for thousands more teachers and other school staff. That would be on top of the about $2 billion a year the Legislature is already seeking for education reform under the McCleary state Supreme Court decision.

In the 2012 McCleary decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers are not meeting their constitutional responsibility to fully pay for basic education and that they are relying too much on local tax-levy dollars to balance the education budget. The court gave the Legislature until the 2017-18 school year to fix the problem.

Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: Initiative 1351; class size, McCleary

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