- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday signed a bill that sets out a plan for finishing the Legislature’s work of reforming the way the state of Washington pays for K-12 education.

The measure is the first bill the governor has signed this legislative session. It is designed to answer the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling - and its orders in the case since then - in the so-called McCleary decision that Washington’s school funding was not adequate or uniform.

Inslee said he expected the measure would satisfy the court, which has held the state in contempt over the Legislature’s failure to make a plan for resolving the remaining issues over paying the full costs of basic education, while ending its overreliance on local tax levies.

“It does advance a significant recognition by the Legislature that they need to act and have a full intention to act,” Inslee said after the bill signing ceremony.

The government commended lawmakers for coming up with a bipartisan compromise on this issue, even though some were reluctant to do so.

“This wasn’t easy. The Legislators worked hard on this for months,” Inslee said, adding that the part won’t be easy either. “The next step before us is arguably the most complex and I’m confident the Legislature is up to the task.”

The measure would establish a task force to find the state dollars needed to replace some local levy spending and instructs the 2017 Legislature to finish the work.

It also instructs the task force to make recommendations on teacher pay and asks for clarification on how local levies are being used today. The measure directs the task force to determine whether more legislation is needed to ensure all-day kindergarten and lower K-3 class sizes are possible in every elementary school in the state.

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AP correspondent Rachel La Corte contributed to this story from Olympia.


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