Political Beat

Lobbyists give lawmakers a failing grade on education

Even lawmakers who approved a proposal to to fund the state’s public schools criticized it as it being nothing more than a “plan for a plan” and not doing enough to solve the state’s education funding crisis.

This week, lobbyists added their own condemnations.

“The Legislature’s continued refusal to comply with McCleary (the court case where the state Supreme Court called on lawmakers to fund education) shows an incredible lack of leadership and ignores the needs of our state’s 1.1 million students enrolled in K-12 public schools. Instead, they passed a charter school bill that diverts public funding to a privately run schools that serve 1,100 students,” one lobbyist wrote.

In the annual Elway Poll, 280 lobbyists compared the Legislature this year to previous sessions. The lowest grade, according to the poll, was reserved for lawmakers’ inaction on K-12 schools. More than 50 percent of the lobbyists surveyed gave lawmakers a grade “D” or “F” for work on education.

Another lobbyist wrote, “Complete state of denial by all parties on education funding issues is deeply disturbing. It will be impossible to resolve core funding, the levy cliff and levy reform in one session in 2017. A disaster is pending.”

The state’s top court, which has declared the Legislature in contempt of court, has directed lawmakers to end a reliance on local school levies to pay for basic education.

Overall, lobbyists gave lawmakers a “C-” which is the same grade as they gave in the previous session, but the average grades mark a slight improvement and the highest grades overall since 2011.

Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee, who is serving his first term,  was also the subject of harsh grades and comments.

“The Governor still hasn’t figured out how to use his power and has been made largely irrelevant in the legislative process. Which means the Senate and the House are left to argue over very small items and are unable to make progress on the important issues facing the state.”

 

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or lauren.dake@columbian.com. Follow her on Twitter .

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