State Budget
7:25 am
Mon January 30, 2012

Wash. Lawmakers Consider Budgeting Education First

OLYMPIA, Wash. – For years, Republicans in the Washington legislature have demanded that state lawmakers vote on the education budget first. Democrats have generally rejected that idea. But this week, for the first time, a “fund education first” proposal will get a public hearing. Azusa Uchikura has more from Olympia.

What’s fueling the decision to consider the education budget first is a ruling earlier this month by the Washington Supreme Court. In McCleary v. Washington, the justices said state lawmakers are not adequately funding education.

Democrats hope to help balance the budget with a temporary sales tax increase. But Republicans say they want an education funding plan that doesn’t rely on tax hikes.

Republican Representative Cathy Dahlquist is a cosponsor of the “education first” plan. She says, “We’re not going to gamble with our children’s future by putting a tax revenue package out for a half a cent as the governor has proposed. I’m totally against that. We need to fund education amply and do it first.”

The “fund education first” idea has been introduced in the past, but never got a hearing before. Democrats downplay the decision to consider the plan this week.

A spokesman for the Democratic caucus calls the hearing a “courtesy.”

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network