What should the state spend on public schools?
In Olympia today, there is only one right answer: More.
And that answer has budget-busting consequences.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, the current education governor – when has the mansion not been occupied by an education governor? – has proposed increasing per student spending by 25 percent. Republicans don’t disagree, though they might spend it differently. And the governor has called her education budget, which goes a long way toward depleting a $1.9 billion surplus, just a down payment.
Not satisfied with promises, nine school districts went to court earlier this month, suing for more state money. They didn’t say how much they wanted, possibly to avoid low-balling the judge. The courts can be very generous with other people’s money.
But there are limits to how much is available. The current surplus will be spent in a few years. And when “more” means higher taxes, public support erodes quickly.
Perhaps, rather than focusing on how much we are spending, we should be asking how well existing money is being spent.