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Education Report Focusing on Ideas

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The Washington Legislature’s annual report to the state Supreme Court will focus on ideas, not progress, toward fulfilling the requirements to improve the way the state pays for public schools.

The court had found that lawmakers are not meeting their responsibility to fully pay for basic education and they are relying too much on local tax-levy dollars to balance the education budget.

Lawmakers added money to the education budget this year, but not as much as many government watchers have been asking for, including the coalition of school districts, teachers, parents and community groups that sued the state and won the lawsuit known as the McCleary case.

A total of $982 million will be added to state education spending over the next two years, with most of the money going to classroom supplies, student transportation and the Learning Assistance Program for struggling students. The Legislature also made down-payments toward all-day kindergarten and smaller classes in the early grades.

As much as $2.5 billion, by legislative estimates, will need to be added to the education budget to meet the obligations lawmakers have already identified for improving basic education and paying for it.

The Legislature acknowledges in the 2014 report it did not enact more specific timelines, but it says the lawmakers continue to work under guidelines passed in previous sessions and will keep discussing education funding over the summer and fall.

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