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Now comes the hard part on I-1351: How is state going to pay to reduce class sizes, hire more teachers?

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SEATTLE — Supporters of Washington state Initiative 1351 to lower class sizes are now declaring victory after more votes were counted in King County.

Despite the win, however, there are new questions about whether the measure will even be implemented.  Some lawmakers doubt that there’s enough money to do the job.

“We’re not going to be able to do it without having the revenue to do it,” said Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, chairman of the state House Budget Committee.

Data pix.

Legislators are already under a state Supreme Court mandate stemming from the McCleary v. Washington case to add at least $3 billion over the next four years to education.

The math quickly gets brutal when you add the voter requirements of I-1351, which is estimated to cost another $5 billion over the same time period.

Some speculate that the Legislature will have to suspend I-1351 because of lack of funds.  Doing so would require a two-thirds vote of lawmakers. After two years, only a majority vote would be required.

“It will be very difficult to change,” said Hunter, who voted against the initiative.  “But it’s also very difficult to imagine a scenario where you could raise enough taxes to pay for it, or cut enough out of the social service budget in order to pay for it.  Either of those things seem very, very hard to do.”

Hunter said that lawmakers are likely to be more focused on funding the McCleary mandates than the I-1351 mandates.  “We run the risk of the court not just holding us in contempt but of actually invalidating the budget,” he said.  “That would be a more significant risk.”

The new legislative session starts in January.

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  • Paul&Kathy

    The stupid liberals in WA state have no idea how much money the schools systems are throwing away on conferences and travel for the administrators. It is a crime how the public is being fooled……daily. The old refrain of “For the Children” gets the libs every time there is a new tax.

  • Lynn Marie

    I don’t understand why people are complaining about this. The public seems to expect that schools not only teach academics but also provide social services, and other services, and they think that should not cost more. More and more behavior intervention rooms are needed, along with behavior interventionists, and alternative schools (with more administration and teachers) for students who can’t handle regular school, but that should not cost more. More and more students need counselors, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, special education teachers, and aides, but that should not cost more. Politicians continue to push for more and more testing, which requires updates and maintenance (and often replacement of outdated computers) of technology, but that should not cost more. School districts are expected to provide transportation for students, but that should not cost more. Teachers are expected to use their own money to buy class materials–even with the $250 tax deduction now gone–but I never hear anyone in the public complaining about that. I never hear anyone in the public complaining about Congress lying year after year about funding special education at 40%, yet never reaching even half that, and then passing “unfunded mandates” which means schools must provide services even if it’s not in the budget. Why is that? Yes, that’s federal money, but if the federal money doesn’t come through, where does the public think the money comes from to provide the services?

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