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Inslee signs education bill designed to find a way to fund schools in the future

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OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The ink is barely dry on that education bill and critics are claiming it doesn’t go far enough to help the kids in schools.

However, supporters are dismissing the critics, saying at least now they have some sort of plan to meet the Supreme Court’s mandate that the Legislature fully fund education.

“It’s a plan for plan in the sense that it’s outlining our blueprint. It’s making sure we have a glide path for the 2018 deadline,” said state Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah.

The bill Gov. Jay Inslee signed will develop a task force to gather data on how individual districts are paying their teachers, so the state can figure out how much money it needs to come up with for basic education funding.

“We should know what we have to pay the next budget cycle and we don’t and we’re figuring that out,” said Magendanz.

The bill will also require the Legislature to reduce its reliance on local levies by the end of 2017. So, with less money coming from Olympia, school districts have had to fall back on using levies to pay teachers.

Educators say this bill does not go far enough to solve the problem.

“We need to make education a priority in this state and really from what they have shown it really is not a priority,” said Phyllis Campano, vice president of the Seattle Education Association.

Last August, the Supreme Court held the state in contempt over its failure to figure out a basic education funding plan.

The court is fining the Legislature $100,000 a day until it meets its obligations.

“I’m glad we’re taking a first step but we should be 10 or 15 steps ahead of where we’re at now,” said Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood.

Senators, like Liias, voted against this latest bill because he says this is just prolonging the final plan and the million-plus students in the state need action now.

“So, we’re just making progress slowly and for the kids in our schools they really deserve fully funded schools today, right now. They don’t deserve to wait for another year or another two years while the Legislature continues to work on this,” said Liias.

Both sides are touting the fact that this is a bipartisan bill, but many still don’t agree on this latest step.

Either way, both sides will have to take up this issue again next year.