Democrats, Republicans address concerned constituents at town halls

Democrats, Republicans address concerned constituents at town halls

Education, health care and the environment all hot topics during several Democrat and Republican town hall style meetings in Spokane on Saturday.

 More than 200 hundred concerned neighbors and constituents packed into the Washington Cracker Factory building in downtown Spokane Saturday morning, including music teacher, Linda Gower. 

“I think politics is so important today because it affects our lives at a local level,” said Gower.

Gower said she wants to see education fully funded for her students. In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled the state has a constitutional obligation to fully fund public K-12 education. This ruling is known as the McCleary decision. Under this ruling, lawmakers must have a plan in place to fully fund education by September 1, 2018.

“The lack of funding- we see it everyday,” said Linda Gower. “Nurses, class size,” she added.

The House and Senate have both passed plans to fully fund education. But, how education is paid for in our state remains a big debate. Now lawmakers must work together to reach a solution everyone can agree on. Governor Inslee is also proposing $3.9 billion dollars in new funding for K-12 schools.

“The real crux of this issue is whether or not we do this with new revenue, which means new taxes,” said Senator Andy Billig (D).

“No body wants addition taxes but sometimes you have to say that is the most responsible way to move forward because without new revenue- it means funding education at the expense of something else,” said Billig.

Rep. Jeff Holy (R) and Rep. Mike Volz (R) also hosted a town hall meeting Saturday at the Museum of Arts and Culture.

Rep. Holy said lawmakers need to fund education first.

For every day the state is without a fully funded education system, the Washington State Supreme Court imposes a $100,000 fine- totally more than $57 million so far.