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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's School Funding Conundrum Might Have Just Gotten Harder

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Complying with a state Supreme Court order to fully fund public schools in Washington might have just gotten even harder. A new revenue forecast out Wednesday projects a sizable drop-off in tax dollars flowing to state coffers.

For the first time in two years, Washington’s revenue forecast has been revised downward -- by $436 million for the next budget cycle. That just when lawmakers will be under the gun to comply with the school funding mandate known as the McCleary decision.

Democrat Hans Dunshee, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said existing taxes aren’t going to produce enough money for schools.

“I mean there’s no way you get to that $4 billion in McCleary out of the existing bucket of stuff,” he said.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Andy Hill, a Republican, doesn’t agree it’s a $4 billion problem and downplays the hit to revenues when it comes to fully funding schools.

“I think it makes the problem a little bit more difficult, but certainly not intractable,” Hill said.

Despite the lowered forecast, overall tax revenues flowing to the state are still growing.

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."