Monday, August 20, 2007

if you can't legislate, litigate

The school funding lawsuit is in the news again. The heart of the matter:
The coalition says the state's education system relies on an outdated formula for allocating money that leaves schools financially strapped and unable to adequately educate children.

The state uses sales, business and state property taxes to pay 84.3 percent of what it costs to educate Washington's 1 million schoolchildren. The other 15.7 percent comes from local levies and some federal money, primarily for education of special-needs children.

The bulk of state dollars go to teacher salaries. The state also matches local bond money for school construction.

The coalition's lawsuit seeks to force the Legislature to pay 100 percent of the cost to educate K-12 students but does not suggest how. It also does not address higher education.
There's an important adjective missing: some. As in, some schools are doing just fine--they have a solid tax base and dedicated levy support. But others aren't. And that's the rub.

As litigation progresses, it could be affected by the upcoming election. If voters choose simple majorities for levies, the State may be able to argue that the major hurdle to funding equity has been knocked down.

1 comment:

DrPezz said...

I wonder if a state sales tax will ever fully fund education rather than using the current system. I don't know all the ins and outs of the economics but wonder if that could be a future answer.