Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island and Senate Democratic Leader, offered the following statement on the Supreme Court’s statement responding to the Legislature’s Article IX Committee report back to the Court:
“We were not surprised by the Supreme Court’s statement today. As we said in the Democratic draft report of the Article IX Committee, while the 2013-15 budget made progress in some areas of basic education funding, the Legislature failed to make significant progress towards fully funding key priorities that we all know will help our children learn.
“The Court ordered the Legislature to outline our plan for implementing full funding of basic education by 2018. The Joint Task Force on Education Funding’s report offered recommendations for such a plan before the 2013 session. Democrats introduced legislation to outline such a plan last year but neither bill received a hearing. We extend our hand to work in coordination with Senate Republicans to pass legislation this year, as ordered by Court.
“This plan must include provisions for funding the state’s share of teacher compensation, which has gone underfunded for far too long. We want every child to have a great teacher, but to hire those great teachers we need to pay a competitive salary and we’re dumping a huge share of the burden onto our local districts. Having a teacher in the classroom is a basic part of a kid’s education, and as the Court says, the state needs to fully fund its share of the cost. As the court says, ‘nothing could be more basic than adequate pay’ for teachers.
“We hope that Republicans will join us in approaching the challenge with open minds and a collaborative approach and will work with us to find the money that the Court demands and that our kids deserve.”