Washington House GOP Puts Education First in its Spending Plan

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, February 3, 2012

Republican Party leaders in the Washington state House refused to say what significant cuts they would make to the safety net, higher education or other programs to offset what they add to K-12.

House Republicans offered a "fund education first" budget Thursday, highlighting what they depicted as $580 million more for K-12 public schools than Gov. Chris Gregoire's spending plan would provide.

But their math was immediately called into question. And the minority party's leaders refused to say what significant cuts they would make to the safety net, higher education or other programs to offset what they add to K-12.

Many Democrats regard Gregoire's plan released in November as draconian. Gregoire herself has proposed a tax increase to "buy back" some of the cuts she proposed.

House Republicans don't want to wait.

"This is the wrong approach," Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, said. "Education should never be demoted to 'buyback' status. We should be funding education first, not using our students as leverage to drive a tax increase."

Dammeier is prime sponsor of the bill that would require lawmakers to fund schools before anything else.

Republicans said their budget plan would preserve the 180-day school year, retain all levy aid currently given to tax-poor school districts, and avoid a short delay of $340 million in state payments to school operations.

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