Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Levy Cliff Bill Passes

 Update from WPD:

Levy cliff delay bill on its way to Governor Inslee for signature!

end of update

From Washington's Paramount Duty:

What an evening! The Senate passed Lisa Wellman's levy cliff delay bill! 


Huge thanks to all the parents, kids, educators, school board directors, superintendents, and administrators who tirelessly advocated. YOU made all the difference! This win is YOUR win! 

Many thanks to all the legislators who sponsored, supported, and voted for the levy cliff delay bill! 

Now, on to next challenge: meeting our constitutional paramount duty by amply funding public education!

From the News Tribune:
Senators approved Senate Bill 5023 on a 48-1 vote Wednesday, with only Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, voting no.

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article137342338.html#storylink=cpy

The caveat is that there is some amendment attached that the money cannot be used for "basic education."  Going to get details on that.

Here's the text of the so-called "accounting clause":
(13) For levies collected in calendar year 2018 and thereafter,
levy collections must be deposited into a local revenue subfund of the general fund to enable a detailed accounting of the amount and object of expenditures from the levy collections. The office of the superintendent of public instruction must collaborate with the office of the state auditor to develop guidance for districts to carry out this requirement.


(14) To ensure that levies for maintenance and operation support under RCW 84.52.053 are not used for basic education programs, beginning with ballot propositions submitted to the voters in calendar year 2018, districts must provide a report to the office of the superintendent of public instruction detailing the programs and activities to be funded through a maintenance and operation levy. Enrichment beyond the state-provided funding in the omnibus appropriations act for the basic education program components under RCW 28A.150.260 is a permitted use of maintenance and operation levies. The report required by this subsection must be submitted to, and approved by, the office of the superintendent of public instruction prior to the election for the proposition.
 On WPD Facebook comment says this:

Here's what both (13) and (14) mean: After January 1, 2018 (which is mid-year, next school year) local levy money will not/cannot be used for basic education. Period. And districts will need to go to OSPI first and ask the state's permission to fund various activities for locally approved levies before they ask voters to support it.

Yet another commenter said this:

I feel like this could create a weird dynamic where schools are suddenly arguing that things are not basic education so they can fund them through local levy dollars. Thus, diminishing the states responsibility. I supposed this fear comes from the other fear that we may not have an actual working solution at the end of this session. Am I alone on this? 

12 comments:

Robert Cruickshank said...

Regarding this:

"Here's what both (13) and (14) mean: After January 1, 2018 (which is mid-year, next school year) local levy money will not/cannot be used for basic education. Period. And districts will need to go to OSPI first and ask the state's permission to fund various activities for locally approved levies before they ask voters to support it."

I don't believe that is accurate. The clause itself reads:

"(14) To ensure that levies for maintenance and operation support under RCW 84.52.053 are not used for basic education programs, beginning with ballot propositions submitted to the voters in calendar year 2018, districts must provide a report to the office of the superintendent of public instruction detailing the programs and activities to be funded through a maintenance and operation levy. Enrichment beyond the state-provided funding in the omnibus appropriations act for the basic education program components under RCW 28A.150.260 is a permitted use of maintenance and operation levies. The report required by this subsection must be submitted to, and approved by, the office of the superintendent of public instruction prior to the election for the proposition."

The key phrase there for us in Seattle is "beginning with ballot propositions submitted to the voters in calendar year 2018." That does *not* apply to Seattle's current levies, and thus, even after January 1, 2018, Seattle will be able to use its currently existing levy for basic education needs. This means SPS is indeed saved from the levy cliff.

Ultimately, this is where everyone expected to wind up as a result of the whole McCleary process, where the state pays the full cost of basic education and local levies supplement that. So that means we have to fight as hard as we can to ensure that the legislature does indeed fully fund basic ed.

dan dempsey said...

"Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, voting no."

I taught Michael Baumgartner math in his 9th grade year at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane.
He was an impressive student.

-- Please do not blame me for his no vote.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The district tweeted out thanks to both the Legislature and public education supporters. They don't have this on their home page yet but I would expect to see a story today.

The Times has nary a mention which is odd considering it's new value and that they had contacted me about on the fight that had appeared here just a couple of days ago. I note that while their editorial board has consistently spoken up for fulfillment of McCleary, they said little about the levy cliff.

Also, it must be stated that those of us who fought for the bill to come to the floor for a vote had felt certain it would easily pass. And that lopsided 48-1 vote is proof of that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

From WAPTSA on the amendment (which backs up what Robert C. said in his comment):

The striking amendment offered by Senator Fain:
· Extends current local levy authority and LEA through January 1, 2019;

· Requires that all levies collected in calendar year 2018, and thereafter, be deposited into a local revenue sub-fund of the general fund to enable detailed accounting of the amount and the object of expenditures; and

· Requires that any enrichment levies going to the voters after January 1, 2018 be approved by Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) before being placed on the ballot. Districts planning to go to the voters with an M&O enrichment levy would be required to create a detailed report of the activities to be funded and then submit that report to OSPI for approval. The bill states that enrichment levies beyond the state-provided funding in the omnibus appropriations act for the basic education program components under RCW 28A.150.260 (prototypical schools funding formula) are a permitted use.

kellie said...

Finally some good news. Although this amendment seems like it will simply create additional layers of bureaucracy. Now there is going to be new work at OSPI to approve levies that need to be approved by voters and districts will need more accountants.

My hope is that the cuts to the WSS are the first thing that is restored with this money.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Statement from SPS:

"Senate Bill 5023 (Levy Cliff Bill) passed the Senate in a vote of 48-1 earlier this evening. We are especially grateful to the Seattle Legislative delegation and to our community partners including the Seattle Council PTSA, Seattle Education Association, PASS, Soup for Teachers, WA Paramount Duty, the City of Seattle and countless community members and families for their extraordinary efforts to bring passage of this bill. It will now move on to the House.

Once the district has analyzed the bill we will share more information regarding the impact on SPS. Further work will be needed to address full funding of education.Thank you to all of our supporters!"

Melissa Westbrook said...

I do think the district got one thing wrong; I believe the levy bill already passed the House.

Outsider said...

The Senate seems to have passed their own amended version, different from the House bill. Now the House would need to pass the Senate version, or amend it again and lob it back over the net, or they would need some sort of conference after which both houses pass a reconciled version.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ah, thank you, Outsider.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Outsider is correct. I believe the House will pass the Senate's bill, and could do so as soon as today, but we will see.

SPS totally botched how they handled the "worst-case scenario" budget. This gives the superintendent and the board a chance to do better - protect classrooms and teachers from cuts, and if cuts are still required, dig much deeper at the central office than they had the first time around.

That's especially true given the levy cliff. Seattle parents did heavy lifting to get that bill passed. They have every reason to believe this will avert the cuts announced just yesterday. If the superintendent and board don't deliver, I think you're going to see a lot of angry parents descend on the JSCEE - and they'd have every right to do so.

alex said...

"That's especially true given the levy cliff. Seattle parents did heavy lifting to get that bill passed. They have every reason to believe this will avert the cuts announced just yesterday. If the superintendent and board don't deliver, I think you're going to see a lot of angry parents descend on the JSCEE - and they'd have every right to do so."

Robert: my sentiments exactly. I am an SPS parent. I took time off from work to testify @ Senate Ways & Means. I sent TA involed, and we had a presentation about the levy cliff & the budget and got many, many parents at mu kid's school involved via. It was SPS parents, and Senate Dems, that put the pressure on to get the extension passed.

I expect to see JSCEE deal with, or absorb, the vast majority of the residual deficit. We did our job, now they need to do theirs. The remaining deficit MUST NOT be managed in cuts at the school & classroom teacher level.

AND I want them to find 2.4 M to go to a two-tiered bell time schedule so we can restore some sanity to our bell times next year, and not make them worse.

~Alex

alex said...

Sorry, my comment should read: I got my PTA involved, and we had a presentation about the levy cliff & the budget and got many, many parents at mu kid's school involved via. It was SPS parents, and Senate Dems, that put the pressure on to get the extension passed.

~Alex