Rep. Susan Fagan reads from the state Constitution during a floor debate Friday.
OLYMPIA — House Republicans want to change rules to require the state's general fund budget be split up so education expenses are decided before other state programs.
The “Fund Education First” proposal has been around before, and failed, but GOP representatives are arguing today it makes more sense as the Legislature faces a mandate from the state Supreme Court to improve funding for the state's public schools.
As part of the debate, Rep. Susan Fagan, R-Pullman, read from a copy of the state constitution that calls the education of its children the state's “paramount duty.”
Democrats, however, maintain as they have before that this is no more than a gimmick. It's not when the budget decisions are made, but how much, they say.
“It's more important to me that we fund education right,” Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, said.
Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said the Republican rule is an example of form over substance. “It does nothing to actually fund education.”
Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, said it was a significant reform that would send a message the Legislature was tackling education reform in a responsible way. “It is much, much more than a slogan.”
UPDATE: Rule change fails 52-41 on a party-line vote.