Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Weekly News Conference--Education Trust Fund
April 9, 2003

Good morning, and thank you for coming.

We’re here to talk about our state’s top priority: Education.

Our future depends on a high quality education system at all levels. Even as we struggle through tough economic times, education must remain our top priority. Improving Washington education is the single most important thing we can do to boost economic recovery. As Washington businesses expand and hire, we want them to hire our citizens—our children. A world-class education system is the key to future economic vitality. Failure to invest in education means failure to progress.

Building such an education system requires new approaches. This includes a new approach to funding, which must be permanent, stable and dedicated. It’s critically important that we are able to protect education funding in a volatile economy.

Back in January, in my State of the State address, I promised to work with education and legislative leaders in creating a trust fund that would give us the stability we need.

We are here today to announce the establishment of the Washington Education Trust Fund.

With legislative approval, the Washington Education Trust Fund will be launched this year. I would like to initially fund it with a down payment of at least $100 million. I am working with Democratic leadership on details of the plan. These details are expected to be included in the House budget proposal.

The $100 million is, as I said, a down payment—we will continue to target funds for long-term investments in education. As new revenue sources to meet education improvement goals are approved, those funds go directly into the trust fund. Such resources will then only be available for improving education.

Our goal is for the Education Trust Fund to be dedicated to education improvements that go beyond “basic” education programs required by the State Constitution. We want the fund used for:

· Early learning
· Reducing class sizes in public schools
· Helping struggling students and low-performing schools meet state academic standards
· Teacher compensation increases linked to teachers’ growth in knowledge, skill and professional responsibility
· Improving access to higher education and job training by expanding enrollment at state colleges and universities
· Recruiting and retaining the best college faculty and early childhood educators
· Expanding financial aid programs, so more families can afford college

Establishing the Washington Education Trust Fund is an important step forward for our state. It is a step we need to take to ensure a brighter future for our kids and a brighter future for Washington. Working together, I am confident that we will succeed in this effort and move our state closer to educational excellence.

Thank you.

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