Bipartisan plan to fully fund basic education expected to account for over 50 percent of spending
OLYMPIA…As the Legislature’s second special session for 2017 enters a third week, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler today expressed optimism and confidence that lawmakers will reach a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a new budget before the end of June.
Negotiating teams from the Senate and House of Representatives have been meeting for weeks and have exchanged multiple offers toward a complete 2017-2019 operating budget. In addition to negotiations between the budget leaders from both houses, talks on issues such as homelessness, mental health and natural resources have been taking place to target specific needs in those policy areas.
In fact, Schoesler noted, the team working to meet the state’s paramount duty – to amply fund basic education – has been meeting six times a week. He said a bipartisan solution to the mandate from the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision is nearing completion.
“We are pleased that we’ve made as much progress as we have and we’ll happily continue working with our Democrat counterparts to do right by the more than one million school children in Washington,” explained Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “Everyone has been negotiating in good faith, despite what folks might have heard, and we expect to be done before the end of this month.”
When completed, it is expected that more than 50 percent of the new operating budget will apply toward education. That continues on a path of prioritizing education set by Schoesler and his colleagues in the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, which has led the way to an increase in education spending of more than $4.6 billion over the last four years.