State schools superintendent slams lawmakers for inadequate education budgets, unveils own plan

OLYMPIA -- State Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn came out swinging at lawmakers Tuesday for underfunding education in the upcoming budget.

A frustrated and fired-up Dorn argued that the current proposals from both parties fall hundreds of millions of dollars short of what is needed for students across the state.

“They’re in contempt of court,” Dorn said.  “They have to do something that gets them off the hook, and I think it’s got to be bigger than what’s out there today.”

Dorn argued that at least $2.2 billion in new money is necessary to fully fund schools and to fulfill the state Supreme Court mandate for education.

His plan, unveiled Tuesday, is sure to create new controversy as state lawmakers work hard to finish the state spending plan by the end of the month when the session ends.

Both Democrats and Republicans have unveiled budgets that would add an additional  $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion to public schools.  So the difference between lawmakers and Dorn is pretty significant.

“This is about kids,” Dorn said.  “It’s not about adults.  I never came here to make adults happy.”

Dorn would put the additional money towards reducing class sizes in middle and high schools, something voters have asked for.  He would also hire more teachers, librarians, counselors and school nurses.

Dorn was not specific about how he would pay for all this extra spending.  He says he will unveil that part of his plan later.  But in the past he has been an advocate of higher property taxes and higher sales taxes for education.