Thursday, January 09, 2014

Dorn Unveils Bill to Fully Fund K-12 Public Ed

From OSPI:
State Superintendent Randy Dorn today released a draft of a bill that would move Washington state toward the full funding of basic education in the event that the Legislature fails to do so by Jan. 1, 2018. 

Among other things, the bill calls for a one percent increase in sales tax, an increase in state property tax to $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value and a decrease in local levy authority – the so-called “levy swap.” 

OSPI estimates the bill will increase education funding by $7.5 billion in the 2019-21 biennium. 

“This bill is a blunt but necessary instrument,” Dorn said. “A general increase in the sales tax is not the best solution to this problem. But something has to be done, and passage of this bill will, I hope, spur the legislature into action.” 

About the bill
Dorn’s proposal makes it clear that the intent of the Legislature is to create a process that will comply with the McCleary decision. The compliance consists of three major parts:

  1. Sales tax: An additional one percent would be collected. The money would go toward funding education.
  2. Property tax: The portion of the state property tax that funds basic education would be raised to $3.60 per thousand dollars of valuation, the maximum allowed by law. At the same time, the “levy lid” – the maximum amount a district can ask for in a levy – is reduced by the amount of new revenue generated by the increase in the state property tax. This is commonly referred to as a “levy swap” of revenue from local sources to the state.
  3. Local levies: Funds generated by local levies may not be used to pay for basic education costs, such as student transportation; materials, supplies and operating costs; and salaries of school and district staff. Levies may still be used for supplemental contracts to compensate staff for extracurricular activities, such as coaching. 
If I'm reading this right, this would make the SPS Operating levy illegal as it pays for basic education costs as noted above.  That would be okay, of course, to not have to beg voters for dollars for basic operating costs but it certainly could change things. 

I am seeking a statement from the district as soon as they have reviewed the bill.

Update: from the Times, the state Supreme Court weighs in saying "the pace of progress must quicken."  

The Court directed the state to 'provide a complete phase-in plan for meetings its goals by April 30, 2014, and indicated the court might seek more frequent reports.'


Mary Griffin said...
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Mary Griffin said...

In related news, the Seattle Times is reporting that the State Supreme Court has ruled that the legislature must increase the rate of education funding to fulfill the McCleary decision.

Charlie Mas said...

The Court's big threat? They might request more frequent reports! GASP! How Horrible!

Actually, the Court should have threatened to charge legislators with contempt and jail them for an indeterminant period. The Court should have threatened to order the sale of state assets to pay for education. That's what the Court would do if anyone else didn't meet an obligation under the law.

Anonymous said...

"The Court should have threatened to order the sale of state assets to pay for education. That's what the Court would do if anyone else didn't meet an obligation under the law."

I am reminded of an old Robin William's comedy routine about an unarmed English bobby yelling at a fleeing criminal

"Stop! Or I shall say stop again!"

nothing will really happen, any tax increase will die in the legislature or be overturned by an Enyman initiative and there will be much hand wringing...

--Mississippi of the North

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting proposal that will get blowback from unexpected places, I am guessing.

Sales taxes are horribly regressive and as such Progressives will not like part at all.

The 'levy swap' will be highly unpopular with well financed districts who would rather keep locally raised education dollars under local control. That means potential trouble with the suburban vote. Small government-local control devotees won't like this either.

I don't have answers, just raising questions. Actually, I do have an answer: income tax dedicated solely to education but it is 100 percent politically impossible.

But good on Dorn for pushing the conversation to the forefront again. Legislature wasn't going to do it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mississippi, I used "stop or I'll say stop again" on my kids all the the time. Very funny.

Greenwoody said...

Time for an income tax on high earners. I-1098 was a start, but 2010 was the wrong year to propose it. Cue it up again for 2016 and link it to education. With the urgency of the court case and sales and property taxes looming as the alternative, it can pass.

Watching said...

The Supreme Court is clear: The legislature is to provide opportunity, not outcome.

Additionally, the legislature has already outlined funding needs. The Supreme Court wants the legislature to fund defined needs.

Yet, we're seeing Carlyle making veiled hints: "More money for schools in exchange for a radical improvement in results. I'm in!"

Schoesler hinting at reforms for dollars. I'm sure we'll see the same from Rodney Tom and his ilk.

Get ready for more games. What will the legislature push??

Decreases in Federal funding, unfunded mandates etc. have resulted in a funding gap of $15M. It is time for the legislature to do THEIR job.

Lynn said...

So it looks to me like the only real increase in funding in Seattle would be our share of the sales tax increase. Is that going to make enough of a difference to get us up to a reasonable amount per student?