Spin Control

McKenna: Charter schools 'clearly' constitutional

OLYMPIA -- Charter schools would be constitutional in Washington state under the system proposed by this year's ballot initiative, Attorney general and wouldbe governor Rob McKenna said Tuesday.

Answering questions about charter schools during a weekly press conference, which he supports, McKenna dismissed any concerns that the separately established schools would be unconstitutional.

"It clearly is (constitutional) because the schools are public charter schools," he said. "They are public schools so they are constitutional."

It wouldn't matter that the commission that would oversee charter operations statewide is appointed, while public school boards are elected, he said. Public universities' boards of regents and trustees are appointed, too, he said.

His Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, has said he opposes charter schools for fear they'd draw limited funds out of the public schools, and will instead expand other innovative programs in schools.

McKenna made his comments during a telephonic press conference that was marked by technological glitches. The candidate and his staff were dialed in to one line, waiting for reporters to call in with questions, for about 15 minutes while reporters were dialed into a separate line, waiting for word that McKenna was present and ready for questions.

On a separate topic, McKenna said he would not "categorically" reject any expansion of Medicaid that's available under the Affordable Care Act, as some Republican governors already in office have vowed to do. But he is concerned that some people who would qualify for Medicaid under the expanded income limits of the act could drop private coverage they now have and apply for government assisted health care, increasing the costs to the state. He also wants to see what the state can afford, how flexible the plans are, he said.




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