by Michael Sarko
– The Capitol Hill Times -
Education and how to fund it is the latest political volleyball bouncing back and forth between lawmakers in both Washington houses and on both sides of the aisle. The State Senate has put together a preliminary school funding bill that adds $38.3 million to the existing school budget, almost all of which is intended for technology upgrades in Washington public schools. There is no money in this package to increase teacher wages, and it still has state education funding falling short of a court-mandated increase by millions.
In response to the Majority Coalition Caucus proposal above, a team of Democrats in the State Senate proposed $100 million in tax cuts to fund non-technology items, such as text books, class-size reduction and teacher wages. This is in keeping with Governor Jay Inslee’s stated wish to end as much as $200 million in tax breaks and loopholes for education funding.
And in judicial matters, Washington lawmakers have been asked to consider a bill that would allow people convicted of prostitution to clean their records under certain circumstances. HB 1292 aims to help those who were forced into prostitution or used it as a means of survival in times of extreme economic hardship, up to and including homelessness, petition Washington judges to vacate those convictions. This would make it easier for otherwise law-abiding people with previous prostitution convictions to qualify for work and housing.