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:
- Sales tax: An additional one percent would be collected. The money would go toward funding education.
- 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.
- 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.
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.'