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Prioritizing school funding

Last Friday, the Washington legislature passed its first big milestone for the 2013 session – the deadline for policy bills to pass out of committee.

It was a mad dash to the finish line which included bills to transform school discipline, support for all students to have access to rigorous college-ready courses, STEM education, reform of early learning programs, and ensuring all third-graders can read. Our legislature is doing some very good work.

While Olympia was focused on policy, local voters focused on funding schools.

During February’s levy elections, voters across the state supported $1.7 billion dollars in funding for schools. Last year, local voters approved $2.6 billion in local levy funds. As the legislature struggles to come up with $1.5 billion this biennium, local voters have approved $4.3 billion in local levy funding during the past two years. The levies were approved with an average 63 percent of the vote in 204 school districts across the majority of legislative districts.

Voters passed these levies because they know the money is going directly to helping kids. Voters stepped up for their local schools.

It’s time we step up for all schools and all students in our state.

Over a year ago, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in McCleary v. Washington that the state was not meeting its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education. The court ordered the legislature to overhaul how education is funded in the state by 2018.

It’s time to make a down payment on our students’ futures.

There are legislative leaders who are committed to fulfilling the promise of our state’s paramount duty and they need our support. Please join me in thanking our legislative leaders who are working hard on behalf of Washington’s kids to ensure ample, equitable, and stable education funding.

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