March 2004

This morning, Richard Roesler of the Spokesman Review reported that Locke may kill funding for Riverpoint project, which would spend $31.6 million this year to build the shell of a combination library, classroom and office building at Washington State University’s downtown Riverpoint campus.

But Locke, who months ago proposed $6.6 million toward the project, is considering a line-item veto, which means WSU would get nothing for the project this year.

Spokane Mayor Jim West has reportedly called Locke’s office. WSU president V. Lane Rawlins and regent Bill Marler wrote a letter Tuesday. Regent Chris Marr has been talking to Locke’s staff. Marr said in Spokane Wednesday that Locke was concerned about WSU’s commitment to the nursing program at Riverpoint.

As Becky Kramer reported for the Spokesman Review in her article Campaign launched for education trust fund, with more than 200,000 signatures to collect by July 2, the League of Education Voters is starting to fire up its initiative campaign. After a year of collecting input from parents, educators, business people and community members throughout the state, the group has developed a proposal that would generate a dedicated stream of money for all levels of public education.

Money would come from a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax rate, which would bring the state rate to 7.5 percent. Local taxes are added on top of that, so the actual sales tax in Spokane, for instance, would increase from 8.1 percent to 9.1 percent.

Among other things, the education trust fund would:

  • Create 10,000 new spaces for high-needs preschoolers.
  • Fully fund Initiative 728 – approved by voters in 2000 but scaled back by
    the Legislature – which reduces class sizes.
  • Provide incentives for teachers to obtain professional skill development.
  • Provide 25,000 more enrollments at community and technical colleges and
    universities.
  • Expand Promise Scholarships and financial aid.