State of the States
Gov. Gregoire Pushes School Finance Study
Washington’s new Democratic governor wants to study how the state pays for schools.
In her Jan. 12 inaugural address, Gov. Christine O. Gregoire pitched her idea of “a broad-based bipartisan commission to find and propose efficiencies and long-term funding solutions for early education, K–12, and our colleges and universities.”
The inaugural speech, which a spokesman from her office said served as the governor’s first address to the legislature, took place 13 days after election officials certified Ms. Gregoire’s November win over Republican Dino Rossi by just 129 ballots out of more than 2.8 million cast, following a second vote recount in the nation’s tightest governor’s race of 2004.
Noting gains in academic standards, “real school improvement,” and school accountability that the state has achieved since a major school reform law was passed in 1993, Ms. Gregoire said: “Now we need to make sure we have necessary funding to ensure we will get the results we’re after.”
The governor has not estimated how much additional funding might be needed for education. But her speech touched on priorities that would have significant price tags, such as giving teachers cost-of-living raises, strengthening early-childhood education, redesigning middle and high schools to reduce dropout rates, and making more spaces for Washington graduates in the state’s colleges and universities.
The study would require the assent of the legislature, where at least one other proposal to study education funding has been floated, following the defeat in November of a citizens’ initiative to raise $1 billion annually for education through a sales-tax hike.
Vol. 24, Issue 22, Page 20