For the entire 6 years I’ve been in the legislature I’ve worked on school funding. I’ve tried to improve the amount and the efficacy of use of the money. This year a bipartisan group of six legislators introduced a package of reforms coming from the Basic Education Financing Task Force report. I’ve written about it in this blog before (http://www.rosshunter.info/?cat=3) and will in the future.
We’re in the middle of a tumultuous period in the evolution of the bills. Our original bills (HB 1410 and SB 5444) were a 110 page first draft that we expected to engender a robust discussion. We were right about part of it – the discussion was robust, but unfortunately not substantive. The Olympia-based education groups have been very negative on the proposal, with most outside groups supportive. The legislation changes distribution of billions of dollars, and we were probably naive to expect change of this magnitude to go smoothly.
We’ve taken a new approach – we’re starting with a blank slate instead of a large first draft. We’ve introduced two bills with similar titles but no real content. The new bills are HB 2261 and SB 6048. We will move these bills through the system while we work on re-crafting a comprehensive bill. This is the strategy we used successfully in fixing the math standards last year.
Behind the scenes the House and Senate are working daily on trying to build consensus around the big pieces of the package. We’ll recapitulate the process we used to build the original legislation with the six of us in a room, but with many more people involved. I expect this to be painful, but it’s a necessary step. Pat, Skip, Rodney, Fred, Glenn and I spent hundreds of hours learning and working with the alternatives. We’ll try to lead everyone through the same process, but in less time.
This will be a circuitous process. We need your input as we move forward. Thanks for staying engaged.