OLYMPIA, Wash. - The battle over finding billions of additional dollars to pay for K-12 education in Washington pits Democrats who want to raise taxes against Republicans who prefer cutting other areas of government.
The challenges facing lawmakers were on stark display Thursday, with Democrats sharply criticizing the GOP at a legislative forum for not coming up with a specific education funding plan and Republicans countering they need more information to bring their caucus members to come up with a viable proposal.
Lawmakers this year must find billions in new funding to fund education in order comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. The Legislature has already put more than $2 billion toward the issue since the 2012 ruling, but the biggest piece remaining is figuring out how much the state must provide for teacher salaries.
Sen. Ann Rivers, R-Clark County, said the state should examine using marijuana tax revenues go to schools.
"Maybe we'll see it, maybe we won't," said Rivers. "If it gets legs I'll be pushing it along the entire way."
Rivers' counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, said she was open to the idea.
"All options are on the table," Rolfes said. "If we need to dedicate marijuana money to get the job done, we're certainly open to that conversation."
Gov. Jay Inslee said he's not opposed to using marijuana money to benefit schools, but he said it would not solve the state's problem.
"It doesn't come close," said Inslee.
The Legislature begins Monday.