State superintendent: Lawmakers are playing kick the can

Jan 22, 2016, 9:02 AM | Updated: 2:49 pm

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn says the state needs to take some extreme steps to ...

Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn says the state needs to take some extreme steps to get the Legislature to pay attention to public education. (AP)


It’s unlikely state lawmakers will find a way to fully fund basic education without increasing taxes.

Randy Dorn, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, confirmed with Seattle’s Morning News that lawmakers will not finish their work to meet the requirements of the McCleary decision this session.

“They’ve played kick the can for a long time,” Dorn said. He added the need to better fund education is “too big a problem.”

State budget director David Schumacher announced Thursday that no one expected the Legislature to finish the work set out by the Supreme Court in 2012. The Legislature, he said, needs deadline pressure to reach compromises for issues of this magnitude.

Related: Will it take a state income tax to fund education?

The Legislature has a deadline of 2018. For failing its duties to fund education, the Supreme Court ordered the state pays a fine $100,000 a day, until a plan is reached to provide education the funding it needs.

Accomplishing the goal could very well mean higher taxes. In order to raise enough money under the current system, the state would have to raise property and sales tax, Dorn says. There are alternatives, such as introducing an income tax, he added.

Dorn, who is not seeking re-election, says he is “trying to lay out all the options.

Despite reaching a compromise, lawmakers have been working on a solution to the remaining issues up for debate. Those issues focus on the state’s over-reliance on local school tax levies and how to pay teachers with mostly state dollars.

Schumacher says the governor will share the results of those ongoing discussions late in the fall, after the election, but before the Legislature reconvenes in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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State superintendent: Lawmakers are playing kick the can