Braun: Bipartisan Senate budget addresses ‘equity issue of our time’

Provides nearly $70 million for to address students’ learning loss,
additional $800 million for special education


OLYMPIA…The 2023-2025 Senate operating budget proposal released today includes nearly $70 million to help Washington’s students recover from learning loss resulting from remote learning and school closures during the pandemic. It also includes an additional $800 million over the four-year budget outlook for special education.

Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, provided the following response:

“We know that learning loss has become a huge problem in our public school system in the wake of school closures and remote instruction during the height of the pandemic. Our kids were kept home for too long. Recently, only a little more than half of Washington’s schoolchildren passed the English-assessment test and less than a third passed the math assessment. Our education system has slipped from one of the best in the nation to the middle of the pack. That’s unacceptable.

“We also know that students are disproportionately affected by learning loss if they are students of color, receive special-education services, or live in lower-income households. The learning gap is much worse now than it was before. Rebooting education, in part by funding strategies to make up that learning loss, is one of the Senate Republicans’ top three priorities. It is the equity issue of our time. I thank Sen. Christine Rolfes, Sen. Lynda Wilson and Sen. Chris Gildon for including $50 million in the Senate budget proposal to help overcome this problem through education grants, intensive tutoring, and enhancements to the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.

“I’m especially pleased that the Senate budget would make such a significant long-term investment in special education. So many kids do not have advocates in their lives to monitor their progress and insist on proper planning and implementation of strategies to meet their needs. The tragedy of that is felt even more strongly among kids receiving special-education assistance. Among other enhancements for special education, this budget would provide money to ensure every child in Washington’s special-education programs would have an advocate. It could be a game-changer for many of our students.”

Over the 2023-2025 biennium, the Senate budget proposal would spend $57 million to create a competitive grant pool where school districts can submit plans to advance student progress and address learning loss. It includes $7 million for intensive tutoring. And it would provide $2 million an innovative and interactive mathematics instructional tool.

Besides paying to provide advocates for special-education students, the additional $800 million for special-education programs would also mean more, such as providing advocates to help students and parents with individual education plans.