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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington House Pledges To Eliminate Reliance On Local School Levies

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network files

The Washington House has pledged to take action next year to end the reliance on local levies to fund schools. The vote Monday also directs the 2017 legislature to fully fund competitive salaries and benefits for teachers and staff.

On the floor of the House, Republican Chad Magendanz urged a “yes” vote on the five-page plan to achieve full funding of schools.

“Since 1978 it’s been clear that relying on school districts to pay for the state’s program of basic education is unconstitutional and we are affirming our commitment to put an end to that,” he said.

But fellow Republican Matt Manweller urged a “no” vote. He said the Washington Supreme Court is “out of control” and the legislature should not be trying to appease it. The Supreme Court last year imposed a $100,000-per-day sanction on the state for failing to come up with a plan to fully fund schools.

“And if we think that one line that says ‘hey, well we’ll look around at getting into this next year is going to appease the court,’ I would say that you’re going to be disappointed,” Manweller said.

The measure now goes to the Washington Senate.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."