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Education money Battle for billions begins in Legislature

first_imgOLYMPIA — The battle over finding billions of additional dollars to pay for K-12 education in Washington pits Democrats who say new taxes are needed against Republicans saying schools must take priority over other government programs before asking for more revenue.The challenges facing lawmakers were on stark display Thursday, with Democrats sharply criticizing the GOP at a legislative forum for not coming up with a detailed education funding plan and Republicans countering they need more information to bring their caucus members to come up with a viable proposal.Lawmakers, who convene their 2017 session Monday, this year must find billions in new funding for education in order comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. The Legislature has already put more than $2 billion toward the issue since the 2012 ruling, but the biggest piece remaining is figuring out how much the state must provide for teacher salaries.Speaking at the annual Associated Press Legislative Preview, Sen. Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said although the Supreme Court forced lawmakers’ hands the debate over education funding has lasted decades.“We’ve been going at this about 30 years, if it was really simple, we probably would’ve gotten this completed sometime back,” he said.last_img read more