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GOP-Backed Measure To 'Fund Education First' Fails In Washington House

Jeanie Lindsay
Northwest News Network
Rep. Matt Shea, a Republican from Spokane Valley, expressed his support for the proposed rule in the Washington House of Representatives to fund education first in the state budget Wednesday.

Washington lawmakers are under a court order to fully fund K-12 education. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that it’s their top priority. But a measure to officially “fund education first” in the state budget failed Wednesday.

Rep. Jesse Young, a Republican, said that finalizing education funding earlier would allow families and teachers more time to share their input.

“They can then respond and then we have a partnership of engagement that says ‘tell us how you’d like us to course-correct,’” Young said.

Democrats expressed concerns that “funding education first” could push other services down the list of budget priorities. They worry it could have negative impacts on kids outside the classroom.

“How effective will our system be if we see an increase in homelessness, if our mental health needs in our children go unaddressed?” Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self said.

A bipartisan task force worked on the education funding issue leading up to this year’s legislative session. Democrats released their plans earlier this month. Republican leaders hope to release theirs soon.