Statement from Isabel Muñoz-Colón, Chair of the State Board of Education, on yesterday’s proposed budget legislation (2PsSHB 1106), reflecting the house’s most recent position in negotiations with the Senate.
The State Board of Education remains concerned that neither the Senate or House budget proposals constitute “ample provision” as the Supreme Court will define that term in its deliberations in the McCleary court case. Though the additional investments in schools are greatly appreciated, the Board believes that merely fulfilling the current law commitments of House Bill 2776 (2010) is not likely to put us on track for full constitutional compliance by 2018.
This limited approach ignores the need for an immediate first step on strengthening the state salary guide for educators, which is clearly inconsistent with the actual costs borne by districts to attract and retain teachers. A thoughtful phase-in plan to bolster salaries and to ensure that local levies are not used to pay for basic education programs will require several years to implement. Reaching completion by 2018 requires the first steps to be taken now.
It has been 6 years since the passage of HB 2261, redefining the program of basic education, and several workgroups have weighed in on the important issues. The Board urges initial policy action this session, as opposed to further study on issues that have already been thoroughly studied by the Basic Education Task Force, the Joint Task Force on Education Funding, Washington Learns, and the Quality Education Council, among others.
When comparing the budget proposals from the two chambers, the Board has favored the House approach up until this point, precisely because it has sought to make robust investments in public education beyond current law requirements, reflecting the recommendations of the Joint Task Force on Basic Education Funding. These investments have included funding for transitional bilingual education, additional guidance counselors, and additional parent engagement coordinators, to name a few. Now that the House has apparently ceded on these items, and appears poised to propose a “study bill” to analyze compensation policy once again, we believe it is in danger of losing its stature as the stronger chamber on McCleary. The tax loophole proposals in support of education contained in HB 2269 are appreciated and supported, but even if it does pass, it still represents a considerable retreat from the originally proposed investments in public schools.
For this reason, the Board urges the House and Senate not to advance the budget proposal contained in HB 1106, and rather to advance a comprehensive McCleary bill that makes investments in student guidance and supports, and presents a clear path to full constitutional compliance by 2018.
The Board appreciates the hard work being undertaken by our legislative leaders, and does not discount the importance of the looming budget deadlines; however, the Board considers the moral imperatives of McCleary to be the more pressing consideration.