House Republicans Again Introduce Fund Education First Legislation

The bill was introduced by Reps. Cathy Dahlquist and Gary Alexander and would require a separate K-12 education budget pass first before other state spending is allocated.

Editor's Note: The following is a press release issued Friday by the office of the Washington State House Republicans.

In a move House Republicans believe is the only responsible way to comply with the state Supreme Court ruling in the landmark McCleary v. State education funding court case, Reps. Cathy Dahlquist and Gary Alexander again introduced legislation that would Fund Education First. House Bill 1174 would require a separate K-12 education budget be passed and signed by the governor before any other state spending is allocated. House Republicans have introduced a version of this legislation each year since 2006.

House Bill 1174, Fund Education First legislation, specifically would:

  • Fully fund provisions of House Bill 2261 (2009) and House Bill 2776 (2010) – beginning in fiscal year 2014 and completing by fiscal year 2019.
  • Prioritize the enhancements by fully funding all-day kindergarten ($349 million) and one-half of K-3 class-size enhancements ($575 million) in the upcoming 2013-15 biennium.
  • Fund the remaining K-3 class-size enhancements ($576 million), additional 80 instructional hours for grades 7-12 ($211 million), and some materials, supplies, and operating costs ($566 million) – also known as MSOC – would be funded in the 2015-17 biennium.
  • Fund the remaining MSOC enhancements ($989 million) and all pupil-transportation enhancements ($232 million) would be funded in the 2017-19 biennium.
  • Increase the percentage of the budget allocated to K-12 education: In the current two-year budget cycle, 44 percent of the operating budget is dedicated to K-12 education. Under the House Republican solution, this number would rise to 47.5 percent in the 2013-15 biennium, 50 percent in the 2015-17 biennium and 51 percent in the 2017-19 biennium.

“The Supreme Court was clear – the Legislature, under years of one-party rule, has failed to comply with the state constitution, which requires us to treat K-12 education funding as the ‘paramount duty’ of the state. Our Fund Education First legislation is the only proposal that will ensure we comply with the McCleary ruling,” said Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw and lead Republican on the House Education Committee. “By funding education first, we end the status quo of pitting students against programs and agencies in the budget not constitutionally protected, such as the Puget Sound Partnership. If we fund our schools first, then we can go about the business of prioritizing the remainder of money taxpayers send to Olympia.”

The two Republicans pointed to a Dec. 22, 2012 quote by a former Democratic King County legislator in The Seattle Times to make their case for making education funding the priority in this and future budgets. The quote reads, “The whole loyalty to your team thing leaves me cold when after years of Democratic majorities, we still have this abysmal record on education.”

“The era of treating all tax dollar expenditures equally has to end. We believe the state has to put more importance on the dollar we spend educating our children than the dollar we spend buying up more private land or more family leave – and the Washington State Supreme Court agrees,” said Alexander, R-Olympia and the lead Republican on the House Appropriations Committee. “As we’ve worked to create our own complete budget proposal, we’ve been consistent in our beliefs that educating our children, protecting the most vulnerable among us, and ensuring the safety of our citizens can all be done without new taxes. It starts with prioritizing our spending; it starts with prioritizing education.”

The bill would reprioritize the implementation of the reforms because studies show that putting money into classrooms early can have the biggest impact on student achievement and success, they said.

House Republicans will also make a move on Friday, February 1, to change House standing rules to include a provision that would require a state operating budget that funds education first.

“The Legislature can and should prioritize K-12 education within existing revenue with the understanding that all programs are not equal and education is paramount,” Dahlquist said. “Agreeing to this rule change would put us on the path to fulfilling the promise the state constitution and previous legislatures have made to our children.”

Both Dahlquist and Alexander participated on the interim Joint Task Force on Education Funding, which met eight times between August and mid-December 2012. Final reports from the task force were due to the Legislature Dec. 31, 2012. House Republican members on the task force submitted the Fund Education First solution outlined in the form of a minority report.

For more information, visit our Web site at: www.houserepublicans.wa.gov/our-solutions/education.

Hoke Overland January 26, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Nice going Cathy and others. You would think that education and transportation would be at the top of the list and then start looking at everything else. Instead they always find a way to put them last and make you vote extra for them and then fund a bunch of crap with the budget instead.
Tom Parker January 27, 2013 at 05:34 PM
It seems like a no-brainer to me. I can't understand why anyone but the most ignorant would even debate against this plan.
Gerd Weyer January 28, 2013 at 04:44 PM
If I understand this proposed legislation correctly it is simply irresponsible since I believe it is based on the assumption that state revenues will never see significant reductions. Over fifty percent of the states budget is allocated to K-12 education. If I understand the proposed legislation correctly, if state revenues decline by fifty percent all other state government programs would be cut completely. I know a fifty percent reduction in state revenue may not seem likely, but how about a 25 percent cut? Does a reduction of over 50 percent in all government programs with no decrease in education spending make sense? Be careful! We had the .com and realestate bubbles burst. Government policy has kicked the can down the road and the bond bubble is now a significant threat that is much greater.


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