Washington lawmakers consider sending class-size initiative back to voters

OLYMPIA — State lawmakers are considering sending the class-size initiative approved by voters last November back to the people.

The Olympian reported that budget writers may send Initiative 1351 back to voters to ask them to approve a way to pay for the measure. Some would like to see the initiative repealed.

Initiative 1351 calls for reducing class sizes in kindergarten through 12th grade. It is projected to cost the state $2 billion over the next two years.

That adds to the already difficult budget problem of how to increase the public school budget by at least $1.2 billion to comply with a state Supreme Court order to hike education spending.

Some of the money to be spent as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling will go toward lowering class sizes, but most lawmakers say that won’t satisfy the requirements of the voter initiative. Lawmakers also don’t have the option of partial compliance with the initiative unless they have enough votes to suspend it.

Referring I-1351 back to the voters is one way lawmakers could get around the problem. Putting an amended version back on the ballot would require the approval of 50 percent of the members plus one, instead of the two-thirds majority required to suspend the initiative.

Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, said referring a “corrected version” of I-1351 back to voters is one tool he and other lawmakers are considering as they craft a new two-year budget.

“I have yet to find a legislator or the governor who says they can find a way to fund it,” said Hill, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “So we will find a way to correct it.”

House budget writer Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said his preference would be for the Legislature to amend or suspend I-1351 without a public vote. But he agreed that it could be difficult to summon the two-thirds majority required in the Legislature to do so.

As a backup plan, Hunter said he also is researching how lawmakers might send I-1351 back to voters.

If the Legislature goes that route, Hunter said he would want to ask voters to approve one of two options: Either repeal I-1351, or enact an amended version of the initiative that includes a way to pay for it.

That way, there wouldn’t be the potential for voters to reject the Legislature’s plan and stick with the original version of the law, triggering a new budget crisis in 2016, Hunter said.

It doesn’t appear as if the Legislature has tried something like this before.

The Secretary of State’s elections division “has no record of this occurring” in state history, agency spokesman David Ammons said. “It’s uncharted territory,” he said.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Granite Falls ‘10-foot alligator’ is actually a tegu named ‘Tazz’

Anybody who spots the docile lizard, last seen near Granite Falls, is asked to notify 911, so Tazz can be reunited with owner.

Photos by Olivia Vanni / The Herald
Gabby Bullock sits on her bed in a room she shares with another housemate on June 14 in Everett.
‘We don’t have openings’: SnoCo recovery houses struggle with demand

Advocates say the homes are critical for addiction recovery. But home prices make starting a sober living house difficult.

Melinda Grenier serves patrons at her coffee truck called Hay Girl Coffee during the third annual Arlington Pride event in Arlington, Washington on Sunday, June 2, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Food safety team defends its work: it’s a ‘high pressure, thankless’ job

Management tried to set the record straight about long permit delays in Snohomish County.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald)
Global tech outage leaves a mark on Snohomish County

The CrowdStrike software update hit some systems at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and briefly disrupted 911 operations.

Performers joust during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire at Sky Meadows Park in Snohomish, Washington, on Sunday, Aug. 06, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Royalty and revelry: The spirit of the Renaissance comes to Monroe

The annual Renaissance fair will open its doors every weekend from July 20 to Aug. 18

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.