Initiative 1351, which would shrink K-12 class sizes at public schools across the state, has crept from a tiny deficit to a small lead, tallying an 12,178-vote advantage of the more than 1.8 million ballots cast statewide. At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the split was 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent.
The Washington Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary ruling requires that lawmakers shrink class sizes in Grades K-3 and the Legislature still has to raise $3 billion to $3.5 billion for McCleary requirements by the end of the 2018 session. The passage of I-1531 would add $5 billion to that obligation.
The Supreme Court has threatened sanctions if the Legislature does not map out an adequate plan to respond to the McCleary ruling by the end of the 2015 session.
The Legislature can negate an initiative in a few potentially politically volatile ways. For several years, the Legislature has been indefinitely postponing Initiative-732, which would requires cost-of-living raises for teachers.
The appropriate legislators could not be reached for comment Friday.
The future of some state legislators was also up for a vote in the last election. Since the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, a voting bloc of mostly Republican senators, maintained its 26-23 control of the Senate, the only suspense left is in the House elections.
In Clark County's 17th District, Republican Lynda Wilson has pulled farther ahead of incumbent Democrat Monica Stonier. Wilson pulled in 18,397 votes to Stonier's 17,337 — a 51.5-perent to 48.5-percent split. With a 1,060-vote deficit, Stonier's chances at coming back for a win are almost nil, putting this race safely in the Republican column.
With Wilson's win, the GOP would have 45 guaranteed seats to the Democrats' 50 seats. Three races are still close enough to be in doubt and Republicans are leading in two of them. Consequently, the tentative current Democrat-to-Republican split in the House is looking like 51 to 47. The final tally's potential range is anywhere from 50-48 to 53-45.
Under Washington state law, a recount is mandatory if there are both less than 2,000 votes between candidates and less than a half percent between the two.
The other three close House races are:
- The 26th District on the southern Kitsap Peninsula: Republican Michelle Caldier leads Democrat incumbent Larry Seaquist 23,587 to 23,194.
- The 28th District in southern Pierce County: Democrat Christine Kilduff leads Republican Paul Wageman by 294 votes — 18,840 to 18,546.
- The 35th District, which includes parts of Mason County, southwestern Kitsap County and a bit of Thurston County: Republican Dan Griffey leads incumbent Democrat Kathy Haigh by 285 votes — 22,745 to 22,460.