From his latest newsletter (partial:)
Today is our first big cutoff, when bills that have not passed out of committee will die for this year.
Please attend our 43rd District Town Hall on Saturday, Feb. 20 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Erickson Theater at Seattle Central College. House Speaker Frank Chopp and I will discuss the legislature’s work and answer your questions on various issues before the state.
I wanted to update you on some issues that I have been working on. I also wanted to invite you to attend our 43rd District Town Hall on Saturday, Feb. 20 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Erickson Theater at Seattle Central College. House Speaker Frank Chopp and I will discuss the legislature’s work and answer your questions on various issues before the state.
Funding Public Education
My top priority this year, as usual, is increasing funding for our public schools. As the father of four students at Stevens Elementary on north Capitol Hill, this issue is personal to me.
The Supreme Court has directed the state to reduce its reliance on local property tax levies to fund teacher pay and other aspects of basic education. At the request of the Gov. Inslee, a small group of legislators worked to develop a bipartisan plan to address this issue. The House has already passed the plan; Senate Republicans, unfortunately, have amended the bill to remove our deadline for compliance and disclaim responsibility for school construction. Although disappointing, that is not surprising -- 19 of the 26 members of that caucus signed a letter last summer urging the legislature to commence federal litigation to overturn the McCleary decision. I fear that we will resolve this issue only with a change in control of the Senate or a more drastic intervention by the Supreme Court.
Because of the rapid enrollment growth in Seattle Public Schools and direction from the Supreme Court and the voters to reduce class sizes, we also need to increase state support for school construction. I am proud to have introduced SB 5859, which would revise the formula for state school construction funding. For many years, the formula has underfunded school construction across the state; it especially disadvantages Seattle Public Schools. Last year, I helped lead efforts by the Seattle delegation to secure $25 million in extra funding that will help to reopen two closed elementary schools to address overcrowding. This year, we are working together again to request about $7 million to expand West Woodland Elementary School.* Both of these items await action by the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which handles the operating and capital budgets for the state.*Editor's note; this money would go to build an addition at West Woodland and was briefly mentioned at today's Executive Committee meeting