Education likely to highlight new session in Olympia

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Lawmakers return to the state Capitol Monday for the start of the legislative session. The 105-day session is expected to be highlighted by a number of topics ranging from medical marijuana to a pay raise for general government and higher education employees, but education may be the biggest topic of them all.

The state is under an order from the Washington state Supreme Court to boost basic funding for education by billions of dollars by the 2017-2018 school year. If the state doesn't secure the funding required by the McCleary decision, the state could face sanctions.

Another issue that plays into the education picture includes finding the funding for Initiative 1351, hoping to lower class sizes. That initiative requires a $2 billion investment. If the House and Senate wanted to suspend or amend I-1351, they would need a two-thirds majority.

The state's leader of public schools says that the only way lawmakers will be able to find the funding for all of this will be to raise taxes.

"To get caught up, I believe it's going to take increased revenue, taxes, to have a quality 21st Century education system," Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn said.

"We have to invest. It's come to that point," Dorn said. "This is the session. This is the Armageddon. This is the Super Bowl. This is it. And it's gotta happen this year."

The Legislature convenes on Monday and, because this is an odd-numbered year and a new budget will be adopted, the session will run through April 27.


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