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Education-only budget sought

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
January 18, 2012 3:10 pm

House Republicans are pushing for a change in how budgets are written, and have support from several Democrats in their call for writing a separate education budget.

As described in a bill sponsored by Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup:

… As of the effective date of this section, appropriations for the purposes of RCW 28A.150.380 and other K-12 education purposes must be enacted into law before it is in order for either house of the legislature to take executive action on omnibus operating or transportation appropriations legislation.

Lawmakers already write three budgets every year: an operating budget that contains education as well as social services, health care, prisons and much more; a capital budget that deals with construction projects and other one-time spending; and a transportation budget.

As the Legislature tries to respond to a state Supreme Court ruling this month saying it hasn’t fulfilled its constitutional obligation  to fund basic education, Republicans are saying schools should be funded before everything else.

“To us, that’s reform,” Joel Kretz, the deputy Republican leader in the House, told reporters today. He said the bill would get a hearing soon.

Some Democrats have cautioned there are other pieces of the budget puzzle that affect whether kids are able to learn — mainly social services for the poor.

Still, some Democrats signed on to Dammeier’s bill, including an education budget writer, Rep. Kathy Haigh of Shelton, and leaders of the centrist Roadkill Caucus, like Rep. Deb Eddy of Kirkland.

South Sound sponsors from both parties include Rep. Fred Finn, D-Thurston County, Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, Rep. Troy Kelley, D-Tacoma, Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, R-Enumclaw, Rep. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, and Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm.

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