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GSI Candidate Roundtable Interview – Part 4

How do you think the McCleary decision mandate should be funded?

One of our goals at GSI is to keep our members informed on public policy issues that could affect their business.  That is why we are hosting an online candidate forum for all state legislative candidates running in Spokane County this year.  Don’t know which district you live in?  Find out here!

Each week, we are posting answers to different questions in anticipation of our October Good Morning Greater Spokane event where we will host a forum between Senator Baumgartner and Rich Cowan.  Check out which candidates answered this week’s question “How do you think the McCleary decision mandate should be funded?”

3rd District Representative Pos. 1

Marcus Riccelli (Incumbent)

“As the husband of a school counselor and parent of two young children, I know we have a responsibility to fully fund K-12 education. To enhance education and produce better results for students, we must invest more. We have to find new and innovative ways to find the dollars to meet our constitutional obligation. Aggressively pursuing the closure of some of our more egregious tax loopholes is one way.”

Tim Benn

“The legislature is responsible for funding decisions not the courts. The responsibility is to meet the needs for K-12. Many of the stresses on education dollars come from groups wanting funding below K and institutions above 12th grade. The goal is to get funding to the classrooms to assist teacher in preparing students for their future with strong skills and positive work values. Skyrocketing tuitions require the legislature to look at the types and benefits of classes that will best serve communities.”

3rd District Representative Pos. 2

Timm Ormsby (Incumbent)

“The McCleary decision on K-12 funding will be the central issue facing the next Legislature. What is decided about that will impact every other budget decision the Legislature makes. I firmly believe that the state cannot meet this constitutional obligation and provide even a minimal amount of the state services the people expect without additional revenue. Some of the funding can come from unproductive tax exemptions, but alone will not meet our responsibility. This court mandated funding increase serves to magnify the structural flaws with the state tax code. I support changing the Washington State tax structure with one more closely resembling Idaho and would include a state income tax. Idaho has low tax rates spread across a much wider base of tax sources. It would be much more consistent during up and down economic cycles so state services would not be subjected to boom and bust funding fluctuations.”

4th District Representative Pos. 1

Bob McCaslin

“Yes, in that we need to have the best public education system there is. Trying to guarantee that despite any fluctuations in the state economy, and having the State Supreme Court put a dollar amount on what the legislature has to do; is wrong. The Court stepped beyond the separation of powers to do this. What we need is a more sustainable source of income for education that isn’t so directly linked to how our state economy is doing. Getting back the control of our public lands from the federal government like over 30 other states have done is an answer in the right direction. This could be our answer to funding McCleary and encouraging the Supreme Court to give us advice, not unfunded mandates.”

Diana Wilhite

“The question of the McCleary decision isn’t just about adequate funding but how to improve the way public educational funds are expended. Effective reforms are needed to improve the quality of instruction and the learning outcomes of the students. Although the State revenue projections suggest that there will be an additional $2.8 billion in revenue, increasing educational spending does not necessarily mean better educational outcomes. Right now government reports that only 59 cents of each dollar reaches the classroom level. According to State reports total educational funding per student is $11,400. Thus it appears that non-educational spending needs to be review and reprioritized.”

4th District Representative Pos. 2

Matt Shea (Incumbent)

“I believe we could begin by funding ‘education first’ in the budget process. We can emphasize per pupil funding by prioritizing taxpayer dollars to classrooms and not administration. We need to implement education reforms – as advocated by the Republican Caucus – specifically addressing the drain on our education system via unfunded mandates.”

Josh Arritola

“One of the largest issues in the next session is overcoming the budget issues with the McCleary decision. We must work to improve how money is spent and work to ensure that the definition of ‘primary education’ is in line with voter expectations.”

6th District Senator

Michael Baumgartner (Incumbent)

“As part of the Majority Coalition Caucus, I’ve helped support legislation that would fund McCleary by dedicating 2/3rds of expected revenue growth to education.  In addition, it is important for the legislature to keep foremost in mind that improving education in our state is not simply about adding more money to the system, it is about enacting real reforms to make sure that every classroom has a great teacher and that parents and local communities are more involved in educating kids.”

Rich Cowan 

“Some have proposed funding education through cutting other programs and services. This is self-defeating – most of the money that could be redistributed into education comes from higher education and our corrections system. Cutting higher education and public safety so we can fund schools doesn’t make sense.

Others have proposed funding education purely by raising taxes. This is also not a realistic plan. Voters have said “no” to large tax increases, as in 2010’s I-1098 proposal, and we should listen to them.

Both sides need to compromise. Republicans need to admit that we must raise some new revenue sources and Democrats need to admit that we must prioritize education and cut other portions of the budget.

We need moderate leaders to bring people together to compromise in the middle. I would work to bring people together to make the difficult choices that real compromises require.”

6th District Representative Pos. 1

Kevin Parker (Incumbent)

“The question is, do we subscribe to McCleary? I believe it is reputation on legislatures of the past not the present. This last budget cycle we allocated $1.7 billion of new spending to education. For the first time in history, the legislature allocated 1 billion new dollars to education in the state of Washington. I believe the Supreme Court is focusing on budgets of the past not of the present. We have proven as Republicans we are taking care of education with our budgets focusing on the present.”

Donald Dover

“Fulfilling the constitutional requirement to fully fund our children’s schools should not be made at the expense of other social programs. We should be able to come up with a way to find the revenue by reevaluating tax exemptions. If particular tax exemptions no longer achieve their original intent, then they should expire. I am not particularly enamored at the thought of a state income tax, and I welcome input from anyone with a valid alternative.”

6th District Representative Pos. 2

Jeff Holy (Incumbent)

“By the legislative process as designed by our WA State Constitution, rather than by the WA State Supreme Court attempting to expand judicial authority into a gray area resulting in redefinition of that constitutional boundary providing for separation of powers.

Last biennium, the legislature added over $1 Billion to K-12 education. We will continue to fulfill the requirement addressed by the McCleary case, to the maximum of our budgetary capacity and within the limits of budgetary reality.

As a reflective moment before we continue to accelerate the rate of increase for K-12 funding, an attempt to determine whether the increase in funding having just been provided has directly affected student outcomes would be a worthy analytical tool giving direction as to where the continuing funding increases should be applied.

This question won’t be able to be directly answered until after the September 3rd Show Cause hearing before the Supreme Court clarifies funding requirements.”

Ziggy Siegfried

“The McCleary decision should be funded by raising revenue and closing the many tax loopholes in our state.”

7th District Representative Pos. 1

James R. Apker

“I think McCleary decision is clear, but to put a fine point on it every dollar that is meant to go to school will be put in a locked savings account that can be only used for schools. That is the first step. The second step is to secure other direct funds, I.E. department of transit, in separate accounts. Once this is done then we can actually start going in to the general fund to make up the difference. When we look at the general fund we can eliminate programs that have duplicates that are over funded, that are not necessary. We can find the money with in the budget to fully fund education as mandated by the constitution.”

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