Statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on the end of the Legislature’s Special Session

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Randy Dorn
State Superintendent of
Public Instruction
June 11 — Today, the state Legislature adjourned after failing to pass an operating budget. Gov. Jay Inslee has called all legislators back tomorrow for a second special session. Below is a statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on the first special session.

I’m disappointed that the Legislature didn’t pass a budget.

The most recent budget we saw was the Senate’s, which passed this past weekend. It continues to underfund the Supreme Court’s call to adequately fund basic education.

In addition, the Senate’s proposal makes troubling decisions similar to those they made in their original budget in April:
  • It consolidates many smaller programs into the Learning Assistance Program. The Senate’s proposal folds many dropout-prevention programs into LAP. LAP is its own program and is not designed for dropout prevention.
  • It effectively eliminates state funded Career and Technical Education. The Senate’s proposal cuts $49.2 million materials, supplies and operating costs (MSOC) for CTE students. It would give districts less money for those students than for non-CTE students, which would effectively end state funded CTE programs.
  • It changes testing requirements, which will lead to fewer graduates. The Senate’s proposal assumes that the Smarter Balanced Assessment will be used as the state’s high school graduation requirement. That assessment, though, isn’t designed to be a test to measure high school proficiency, and could lead to as many as 65 percent of our students not passing.
More generally, the Senate’s proposal increases basic education funding by roughly $1 billion. Last week I said the House budget, which increased basic education about the same amount, didn’t go far enough to satisfy the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. I feel the same way this week about the budget passed by the Senate.

The minimum amount needed to put this state on the path to adequately funding education, according to the Quality Education Council, is $1.4 billion. Anything less puts this state in danger of failing to meet its constitutional duty.

Finally, I’m troubled by how different the Senate and House budgets are. As we head into a second special session, it doesn’t appear that the two chambers are close to an agreement. A government shutdown would be a disaster for our schools.  On Friday I delivered a letter (attached) to legislative leaders laying out some of the effects of not passing a state budget.

It is time for the House and Senate to agree to put off divisive policy debates and simply pass a state budget that meets our basic constitutional responsibilities.


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