Schools could be shut down if Legislature fails, Gov. Inslee says

Jan 10, 2017, 5:56 AM | Updated: 9:29 am

Inslee, homeless, education...

Gov. Jay Inslee says the Legislature needs to figure something out this year to fully fund public education, otherwise there could be dire consequences. (AP)


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the ramifications for the Legislature not finding a way to fully fund public education soon could be tremendous.

Inslee says in other states where a legislative body has “blown off the courts,” those courts have had the power to issue sanctions. Those sanctions have included shutting down an entire school system.

Related: Lawmakers brace for bruising battle over education in Olympia

It happened in New Jersey years ago and it almost happened in Kansas, Inslee points out.

“We don’t want to go that route there … there’s no reason for that,” he added.

Inslee told Seattle’s Morning News that he was “reluctant” to discuss what would happen if lawmakers continue to violate the Constitution by underfunding K-12 schools, because, he said, “we shouldn’t have to think about what the Supreme Court is going to do.”

Inslee isn’t just pointing fingers. The recently re-elected governor is trying to convince lawmakers to approve a tax on carbon emissions, a tax which voters opposed in November.

The Democrat is proposing a tax of $25 per metric ton of carbon emissions starting in 2018 as part of a two-year budget plan that seeks more than $4 billion in new revenue.

The tax would raise nearly $2 billion in the first year with half going into education and the rest toward clean energy, transportation, forest health and other projects.

Inslee’s previous plan in 2015 to charge a fee for carbon pollution failed to gain traction in the Legislature.

If a carbon tax was approved, gas prices would jump. The proposed tax would add 10 cents to every dollar of gas in the first year, KIRO Radio’s Mike Lewis reports. It also would adjust upward annually at the rate of inflation plus 3.5 percent. And it would tax heating costs if the power source is fossil-fuel based, such as natural gas, oil, and coal.

The governor’s proposal, however, would provide a small business tax cut and reduce — or at least not increase — property taxes for about 75 percent of homeowners.

Inslee says if lawmakers are going to finally fully fund basic education this year, “it’s going to have to come from somewhere.”

“You could eliminate the entire higher education system in the state and you wouldn’t save enough money to do this,” Inslee said.

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