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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."

Education Watchers In Washington Eye Colorado School Funding Vote

Washington Legislature
Washington state Rep. Larry Seaquist chairs the House Higher Education Committee

A decade after Washington voters defeated a one-cent sales tax increase for schools, a school funding vote in Colorado has education watchers in Washington paying close attention.

If the referendum passes it might embolden school funding supporters in Washington to try again.

Colorado’s Amendment 66 would increase state income taxes to raise nearly $1 billion a year for public education. The money would go to fund more individualized attention for students, expand full day kindergarten and pay for teacher and principal professional development.

Colorado is a purple state currently controlled by Democrats. In that sense this could be a bellwether vote.

Washington state Representative Larry Seaquist, a Democrat who chairs the House Higher Education Committee, says he is looking for some intel from Colorado’s vote.

“I think we need to study the Colorado voting and what information those voters acted on so that we can make sure we’re accurately and completely conversing with our voters about why these needs are important.”

Seaquist says Washington might consider a more holistic education funding measure that includes early learning and higher ed as well as K-12.

Washington lawmakers this year made a own payment of several hundred million dollars on a Supreme Court decision that says the state isn’t adequately funding basic education. But billions more will be needed in the coming years to satisfy the court.

On the Web:

Organization and Financing of Washington Public Schools - Washington OSPI

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."