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McKenna: Limit other spending to boost education

Washington could spend more money on its public schools and colleges by limiting the growth in other state expenses and changing the way some property taxes are collected, a gubernatorial candidate said Tuesday.

Republican hopeful Rob McKenna released new details of his plans to increase spending on education, with an extra $1.25 billion for public schools and $437 million for colleges in the first two years of his tenure.

After McKenna discussed the details in a pair of one-hour meetings with reporters, a spokeswoman for Jay Inslee, his chief Democratic rival, called it "empty promises." The plan won't generate the revenue he expects, Jaime Smith said in a press release.

The state is under a Supreme Court mandate . . .

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Idaho ranks low, falling for school spending

It's not just that Idaho ranks 50th in the nation for per-pupil spending on schools, an area where the state long has ranked low. It's that Idaho's ranking for school spending per $1,000 in personal income in the state has dropped dramatically, from 15th in the nation in 2001 to 41st in the latest U.S. Census report, released last week.

"I think we are in a race to the bottom here, it seems like," said Sherri Wood, president of the Idaho Education Association, the state's teachers union. "Unfortunately it certainly is not going to be good for the state, and not for our students either." Melissa McGrath, spokeswoman for state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, said, "We do not believe that per-pupil spending or the amount of money you put into education is the most important factor in determining a great public education system." She said students from Idaho and Utah - the only state Idaho beat for per-pupil spending - outperform those in states that outspend them. Utah ranks 38th for school spending per $1,000 in personal income. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.