House Republicans’ Fund Education First proposal heard in House committee today
Broad support shown for measure requiring separate education budget
House Republicans' Fund Education First proposal was heard in the Education Appropriations and Oversight committee today. House Bill 2533, which is a priority for House Republicans, has broad support from parents, teachers and administrators.
“This bill would take the politics out of education,” said Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis. “It creates the framework to accomplish what the courts have told the Legislature it must do by requiring the Legislature to prioritize our first dollar on education, not our last.We should not have to bet on a tax increase to fund our paramount duty.”
In the McCleary decision, the Supreme Court clearly said the state must amply provide for the education of all Washington students. And, it is the state's first and highest budget priority before any other state program. DeBolt pointed out the precedence for creating a separate education budget is already is place since the Legislature currently adopts three separate budgets – operating, capital and transportation.
“Education is our state's paramount duty and is also one of the highest priorities for members in my caucus,” said Gary Alexander, R-Olympia. “In fact, House Republicans have pushed to have education funding separated from the rest of the budgeting process for several years. If it is the state's number one priority – and we believe that it is – then we should fully fund it first. The rest of the budget process and funding the remaining core functions of government, like public safety and protecting the most vulnerable, would then follow in a regular operating budget.
“We must not be afraid of changing the budgetary status quo in Olympia,” said Alexander. “We know the people of this state value education very highly, the court has ruled that it's the state's paramount duty, and House Republicans believe it is the tool to lift our citizens out of poverty and allow them to pursue their dreams. Today's committee hearing is a good first step to show how it can be done.”
“We have to get to the point where we understand that all state programs are not equal, and commit our financial resources to the highest priority programs,“ said DeBolt. “We know education is the state's number one priority, it is in our constitution.
“This bill does not prescribe what we will spend on education. It simply says we will fund education first,” said DeBolt. We know all Washington students deserve a quality education and the Supreme Court, in its opinion, reminded us that education is our first and highest priority. Providing ample funds is a commitment we must make because it is the right thing to do and it is what the Supreme Court has directed the Legislature to do. They said in no uncertain terms – fund education first. This bill is a step the Legislature could take to show the courts it is serious about complying with the McCleary ruling.”
###Washington State House Republican Communications