State Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, will serve as chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee when the Senate convenes for the 2018 legislative session.
Wellman, a former educator, was chosen by her colleagues to lead the committee responsible for crafting policy that affects more than one million school-aged children in the state.
“Education is the best tool we have to improve lives throughout our state and I’m honored to take on this important responsibility. Working with our state’s dedicated educators, we’ll focus on improved student success at every level,” Wellman stated. “We have important decisions to make as we work to improve the sweeping legislation passed during the 2017 legislative session in response to the McCleary decision.”
Wellman will also continue to focus on expanding economic opportunity throughout the state through her work on the Senate Economic Development and Trade Committee and the Senate Energy, Environment and Technology Committee.
The committee changes stem in part from Democrats gaining a one-seat majority in the Senate after winning a special election earlier this month in the 45th Legislative District. With Democrats back in the majority, they now have the power to set the agendas of Senate committees and floor action, determining which bills will be heard and brought up for votes.
On Nov. 15, Wellman issued a statement in response to the state supreme court’s announcement that it will retain jurisdiction over the McCleary K-12 funding case:
“Today’s announcement reaffirms the progress made by the Legislature in 2017 but is also a reminder that our work to amply fund public education is not over. The court’s message reflects the difficult journey lawmakers took finding a viable remedy for the public education funding crisis in our state.
“Regardless of today’s announcement, we know our talented educators throughout the state deserve adequate compensation and conditions in which they can help students thrive. We can’t forget about other funding challenges we face, especially when it comes to special education. It is our responsibility to explore every option in order to speed up implementation of the new salary schedule, further reduce class size, and respond to the unique challenges and opportunities of a 21st century economy.”
The 2018 legislative session gets underway in Olympia on Jan. 8.