February 6, 2013

By Staff

Separating education is not a budget issue

Last Friday, the House of Representatives split along party lines on a proposal to create a separate budget for K-12 education funding. If approved, the education budget would need to have been funded before the state could look at its other obligations.

It’s just not that simple.

The state constitution says that education is to be the paramount duty of the state government, but it never really gets into what paramount means.

However, thinking of it only in terms of school funding is overly simplistic.

While dollars are extremely important, there’s a lot more to education than making sure teachers have adequate resources.

House Republicans said their proposal to split the budget was meant to address the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision that the Legislature wasn’t funding education properly.

That might be more believable if they hadn’t been pushing the measure every year since 2006.

In reality, the plan had little to do with education and more to do with stripping funding from the sorts of social programs the GOP has never liked to begin with.

If education were funded first, there would be less left over for everything else, and “everything else” contains some important programs which also contribute to education.

Rep. Chad Magendanz (R-Issaquah) quoted President Obama saying a world-class education is the solution to poverty.

We couldn’t agree more. But education goes hand-in-hand with housing, food to eat and health care.

Students can’t learn without all of those ingredients and more. Whether or not an education budget is separate from the general state operating budget is immaterial. All roads lead to the same tough decisions.

Our legislators need to find necessary budget cuts and new revenue sources to make education the top priority. Introducing bills destined to be nothing more than team building for the political parties is not the way to non-partisan solutions.

The voters have made it clear they want their representatives to make education funding the priority above all else. They’ve also made it clear that partisan politics cannot be an excuse for stymying the process.

Last Friday’s vote was just business as usual. We’re disappointed.

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