“We made progress on some parts of McCleary, as expressed in the investments in all day K, lower class sizes in grades K-3 and basic maintenance and supplies to our districts. We funded the educator COLA, finally, and gave our public workers a much deserved raise as well. But we should have done more than this – much more.

“In the legislature’s report last year to the Court, we stated: ‘2015 is the next and most critical year for the Legislature to reach the grand agreement needed to meet the state’s Article IX duty,’ and The upcoming biennial budget developed in the 2015 legislative session must address how the targets will be met. Then, in its order holding the legislature in contempt of court, the Supreme Court specifically instructed the legislature to prepare a plan for how we’ll implement the remaining elements of fully funding basic education. This included salary and levy reform to increase educator salaries and having the state pick up more of the burden. The legislature has passed no such plan despite seeing some encouraging proposals this year. Throughout the session, I also heard loud and clear that the class size reductions in grades 4-12 passed by the voters are needed, as are the additional counselors, nurses and social workers provided under the new law. My own observations and experience this year have also told me so. Unfortunately, the legislature failed to make progress on that issue. 

 “This is my fifth year in the legislature. I have voted for every compromise final operating budget. I am not averse to compromise and certainly understand that it is the heart of the legislative process. As with any budget there are positives and negatives in it. I like and support the tuition reduction policy. I like the funding of medical residencies. I like the protection of the UW Medical School funding. I like the mental health funding additions, required by court order. I like funding of developmental disability and autism screening for young children, a policy I have been advocating for many years.

“But in the end, the budget before us, necessary as it is, does not fully meet the test of what needed to happen on all parts of our constitutionally required education investments. We need structural tax reform in this state. I suspect that the debate over education funding and tax reform will not be over as our McCleary investments are evaluated by the Court in the coming weeks.”