Earlier this month, New York decided to become the first state to offer four years of tuition-free public college to its residents.
Starting in the fall of 2017, any student from a family making less than $100,000 a year can qualify for free tuition, under certain conditions, such as a requirement to maintain a minimum grade point average and commit to living and working in New York for four years after graduation.
While there are arguments on whether free college is truly “free,” one thing is clear — New York made it happen.
NY has free college, WA can’t get K-12 funded
Here in Washington, it has been more than five years since the Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary v. Washington decision — a ruling that stated Washington, in violation of its own constitution, was underfunding public schools.
The Court has been fining the state Legislature $100,000 a day since August 2015 for not obeying its McCleary ruling. Fines have now racked up to $61.5 million. That money could have gone toward funding public education!
The Legislature closed a 105-day session on April 23 without reaching an agreement on a two-year budget or any resolution on McCleary.
How much longer?
New York is paying for its free college through its state budget. The new program is expected to cost $163 million for the first year alone.
Washington, time is running out.
Lawmakers have spent the past five and a half years posturing and preening while doing little to solve the problem.
The Supreme Court has set a deadline of 2018 for a funding plan to be implemented, meaning that it must be finalized during this session. Then there’s the threat of a government shutdown, which happens if no state budget, which includes K-12 school funding, is approved by July 1. And a May deadline will have school districts planning for layoffs if those districts are not assured of next year’s funding.
The overtime legislative session, which began on April 24, is costing taxpayers up to $20,000 a day.
Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame Democrats. The Senate blames the House. The House blames the Senate. This happens year after year after year.
Lawmakers — are you listening?
Citizens — call your lawmakers and demand action.
It’s time to get it done already!
Students who were in kindergarten at the beginning of the McCleary case are now in the 9th grade.
Let’s stop wasting time, look beyond “D” and “R” and do what’s best for our children.