State lawmakers to focus on education funding in upcoming legislative session

State legislators outlined yesterday the newest developments involving the McCleary decision, which would increase K-12 education funding to $11,400 per student.

Majority Leader state Sen. Mark Schoesler, R- 9th District, and state Rep. Mary Dye, R- 9th District, presented their updates at the Foley Institute’s final Coffee and Politics event of the semester, prior to the Washington State Legislature regular session, which opens Jan. 11, 2017.

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According to Gov. Inslee’s proposed budget, base starting salaries of educators will go from an average of $35,700 to $54,587 over the next two years.

“No one said we are not going to increase salaries,” Schoesler said. “But this plan is not one we should support.”

Allison Munch-Rotolo, the Pullman School District school board director, spoke out against the senator’s remarks.

“What plan would you support?” Munch-Rotolo asked. “Pullman has a great value of life and we do not have enough teachers to yield a good pool of candidates due to lack of funding for teachers.”

Schoesler said that pay alone is not enough to increase the amount of teachers in the state.

“Everett school district pays their teachers a lot,” he said. “Looking at their test scores, I would sooner send my kids to Pullman.”

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Dye felt that a pay increase will be necessary.

“We need to pay our teachers better to attract more teachers to Eastern Washington,” she said. “However, teachers should be paid more based off of experience and training.”

Both representatives touched on possible ways of testing for drivers under the influence of marijuana.

“I know WSU is working on a project to develop something similar to a Breathalyzer to detect marijuana,” Schoesler said. “It is important to find a way to find people who are under the influence on the road, in school or in the workplace.”

Schoesler and Dye held an open forum time for individuals to ask them questions and addressed topics ranging from groundwater rights, what committees the two legislators will serve on and their experience running for office during the recent election that ended in November.

The Foley Institute will continue hosting speakers for its Coffee and Politics events during the spring semester in 308 Bryan Hall.