The Washington Constitution makes education the highest priority of state government, but that doesn’t stop lawmakers from cutting the money they spend on schools.
In fact, education spending as a percentage of the state budget has been declining for years.
In the past decade, education spending has gone from close to 50 percent to just above 40 percent of the state budget, despite the fact that some education spending is protected by the constitution.
The key to understanding state spending on education lies in knowing what qualifies as basic education and what does not. The definitions – some obvious, some less so – have been crafted over the years by state lawmakers, with pressure from the Washington Supreme Court.