2017 session begins as lawmakers spar over how to fund education


Legislator: Rep. J.T. Wilcox
Run Time: 1:06
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SUGGESTED LEAD: When lawmakers convene at noon for the first day of the 2017 legislative session, the big question is how will they come up with an education funding plan that satisfies the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling? John Sattgast reports from Olympia.

SATTGAST: Governor Jay Inslee wants to raise taxes by more than $4 billion dollars to fund education. But Republicans like Representative David Taylor of Moxee say that's crazy. The state's already flush with money. . .

TAYLOR: “If we just said, 'You know what? We don't need to do anything!' We'd still have an extra three-billion dollars of additional revenue coming in to the state of Washington to provide the services.”

SATTGAST: Instead, Republicans say tax reform is needed to end over-reliance of local levies to fund basic education. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm is the House Republican floor leader.

WILCOX: “The poorest parts of the state are paying the highest tax rates and the highest tax dollars when we're talking about property tax.”

SATTGAST: House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish says a plan is needed that adds fairness to rural areas – not huge tax increases against businesses and jobs.

KRISTIANSEN: “The local school levy is a huge issue, especially in districts like mine and other rural districts around the state that are disproportionately paying a heck of a lot more for the education system that they've got than those in the more affluent parts of the states are. We're going to move forward with a plan that we know is going to work.”

SATTGAST: The stage is set for a contentious legislative session that some predict could even extend into the summer. John Sattgast, Olympia.

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