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Legislature Moves into the Budget Battle

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Policy & Legislation


Democratic and Republican proposed budgets differ in how they pay for McCleary and 1351

The 2015 Washington State Legislative Session is slated to end April 26th. However, the state budget is about to take center stage in negotiations that could mean an extended special session into the summer if agreement is not reached. The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, and the Senate, controlled by Republicans, have released their budget proposals which include different plans to fund educational items such as the Supreme Court McCleary ruling and some components of Initiative 1351 passed by Washington voters to reduce class size. Negotiations will center on how to fund all of the state’s needs with either program cuts, new revenue, closing of tax loopholes, or a mix of all of these approaches.

While we had several opportunities to raise awareness around the importance of Expanded Learning, with a focus on K-12 education funding, it was a tough year to move forward legislation in support of ELOs at the state level. Only two bills remain that would positively impact afterschool and summer programs, although we are carefully watching the budget process for other opportunities. Two identical bills, known as the Early Start Act (House Bill 1491/Senate Bill 5452) aim to enhance the state’s early learning quality rating improvement system known as Early Achievers. There is language in the bill that calls on the Department of Early Learning to develop an Early Achievers pilot for school-age programs. The pilot will require funding, so we are paying close attention to budget negotiations.

Watch out for action alerts regarding state issues over the next few weeks.

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