McKenna on KIRO: Is the McCleary case finally over?

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about the latest state Supreme Court hearing on the McCleary education funding case that has roiled state government for over five years. Justices asked tough questions of both sides in Tuesday’s hearing.

Dave Ross: “The other thing is, critics point out that while the state is providing more money, it is also pulling out – taking back – some of the local money that was filling in the gaps, which the larger districts don’t like, and so therefore this budget…is deceiving. What about that?”

Rob McKenna: “Well, I don’t think that’s true. I think that there will always be a tug-of-war and there’ll always be some disagreements over the details of the budget. But there’s a difference – and an important difference – between a policy disagreement and something that’s unconstitutional.

“The court came to its conclusion in 2012 about basic education funding because it was so glaringly obvious that the state was not fulfilling its own legislative mandate for what constitutes basic education and funding it. And it and was continuing to require, essentially, school districts to provide up to 30% of the budget.

“I mean, the Superintendent of Public Instruction pointed out earlier this year that something like 70% of local levy money now just goes to pay teacher salaries. Teacher salaries are clearly a feature of basic education that have to be funded, by and large, by the state. And that’s what happens in this revised budget.

“In fact, the average teacher salary now across the state, by the year 2019-2020, will be $73,500. That’s $20,000 more than before the McCleary ruling was handed down in 2012. They also approved a large increase for administrative and classified staff, and in increasing salary spending by those amounts, they actually went beyond the McCleary requirement.”

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