Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, released the following statement on the operating budget which today passed the Senate:

“There is no question that we have done much better for higher education than in recent memory.  Holding the line on tuition requires additional direct state support to the colleges. Senate Democrats, from the first day of session, took the position that we had to reinvest in direct state support in order to do better on tuition, and we did.

“On K-12 and McCleary, we have a new investment of about $950 million. Expanding all-day kindergarten from 22% to 44% of our schools is a good step forward. I was disappointed that we were not able to secure any dedicated sources of new revenue – from unproductive tax exemptions, for example – to meet our long term educational obligations.

“I sat on the Joint Task Force on Education Funding and we developed a plan to fulfill our McCleary obligation that required about $1.4 billion this year and over $4.5 billion in new education dollars by 2018 – even more than $4.5 billion if you include issues like teacher compensation, which the state needs to do more to help with. This year, we were able to provide slightly less than one billion in McCleary funding through a recovering economy, lowering caseloads, suspending programs and a one-time shift of the $277 million from the public works account. This is not structural change.  This is piecemeal. We will NOT find $4.5 billion or more of K-12 funding through such accounting going forward. We need long term finance changes in this state that will require additional revenue and structural changes in the budget. Both sides, including ours, need to be willing to reexamine old assumptions to move forward together on this historic challenge.”