Sen. Rolfes will be lead Democrat on education in state Senate

Sen. Christine Rolfes, a Bainbridge Island lawmaker who represents the 23rd Legislative District, will serve as the lead Democrat on the Senate K-12 Education & Early Learning committee and as the assistant lead Democrat on the Senate budgetary committee, Ways & Means.

“This is a once-in-a-generation year for Washington,” Rolfes said.

“Rural and low-income school districts that struggle to raise levy dollars have limped by year after year as a result of the state’s underfunding,” she said. “Students, their families and teachers deserve solutions this year, not excuses, and I am optimistic we can walk away from this session leaving the state in better shape than when we begin in January.”

The Legislature reconvenes on Monday, Jan. 9 for the final budget writing session before the 2018 deadline to fulfill the state’s constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education.

Lawmakers have restored billions of dollars to the K-12 system following the recession, but state officials noted that Washington still relies on local levy dollars to fund significant portions of educator and school staff salaries. The gap is roughly $1.5 billion per year, or $3 billion per biennium. That figure does not include funds needed for special education, student transportation and other critical needs.

In addition to the committee appointments, Rolfes will also serve as the assistant floor leader.

Rolfes has been in the Senate since 2011, after having served in the state House of Representatives since 2007. She ran unopposed in November and was re-elected to a four-year term.