Friday, March 24, 2017

Washington State School Funding Updates

Update:  great analysis from the Washington Budget and Policy Center on the GOP bill.

Republican leaders in the state Senate have proposed a two-year spending plan that would profoundly weaken that framework by slashing vital investments that help Washington’s communities and people prosper – and by failing to come up with the revenue needed to fund schools and other key priorities. Their plan would turn the state budget into a house of cards, at risk of collapsing at the first sign of a slowdown in the economy. And the human cost in terms of the well-being of Washingtonians would be staggering.  

What’s more, Senate Republicans actually propose creating or extending nine tax breaks, totaling $13.5 million in giveaways in the 2017-2019 budget cycle.

While the Senate’s proposed budget increases K-12 education funding by $1.8 billion, or by 7 percent, it makes huge cuts to early learning – slashing $36 million from child care program.
end of update.

Here's the latest.

The GOP-majority Senate passed their budget plan, SB 5875, two days ago after many hours of debate with the vote coming in the middle of the night.  It passed 25-24. 

In terms of fulfilling McCleary, here are their main points:

- no new revenue.  The Republicans find the money to fund public education by cutting (some would say slash and burn) many different programs like the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program and early learning programs. It also does not fund the proposed Department of Children, Youth and Families that would consolidate programs for families in crisis.

- they end local levies that fund basic education and, instead, create a state property tax that would fund some of education spending.  (This would not end local levies for other purposes.)  While all districts would see an increase, districts like Seattle would see fewer dollars in order to support districts in other parts of the state that are not "property-rich."

From Crosscut:
But Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, argued that numerous areas, especially in the Puget Sound area, would get hit with much higher property tax increases while others will see decreases. Inslee said that the GOP plan assumes King County residents are much wealthier than the rest of the state and can easily pay a disproportionate share of property taxes.
- it is unclear if this bill truly fully funds schools per the Supreme Court ruling.  It appears that it falls short by at least a couple of billion dollars. 

- they move from a proto-type school funding to per pupil funding.  I'll note right up front this is exactly what charter and voucher supporters want.

Each child - $12,500  (the $12,500 number includes federal dollars. The bill actually has only a basic per pupil guarantee from the state of $9200 for 2018-19.)
If Special Ed - plus $7,500
If ELL - plus $1,000
If F/RL - between $2000-$5,000
If homeless - plus $1,500 (but they also cut funding for assistance for homeless youth)

As well,

- repeals 1351 for reduced class sizes (probably will not change class size for K-2)

- nothing to expand access to higher ed for low-income students

- the GOP bill will not fund pay raises for general state workers that have already been negotiated.  They will only fund state correction workers and state patrol workers.

On the Democrats plan, from The Olympian:
House Democrats are set to release and pass their own budget proposal next week, and then both chambers will begin the work of negotiating a final compromise that must satisfy a state Supreme Court mandate on education funding.

If lawmakers are unable to complete their work by the time the current 105-day legislative session ends April 23, they'll have to go into overtime sessions, something they have had to do frequently in recent years.

About half of the more than 20 additional amendments debated on the floor were rejected, including an effort to restore funding to the temporary assistance for needy families program, which sees a cut of $96 million under the budget, including $1.2 million from requiring applicants to the program to search for a job before applying for benefits. Another rejected amendment would have frozen undergraduate tuition at the state's college and universities for the next two years.

But the chamber accepted several floor amendments Thursday night, including one that restored $1 million a year in funding to a program that links homeless students and their families with housing.
I suspect the Dems plan will include a capital gains tax and possible tax cuts.  It is interesting that Boeing continues to get tax cuts and yet just announced the layoffs of 245 employees.

Here's what Crosscut had to say (bold mine):
One way to look at Tuesday’s action is that, with less than five weeks left in the regular legislative session, the GOP unveiled an “apples” budget. The Democrats will unleash an “oranges” budget at roughly the four-weeks-to-go mark.

Read more here:

The real budget talks deadline is June 30, because the state government will otherwise partly shut down on July 1 without a budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Inslee.

In 2013 and 2015, Democrats and Republicans did not agree on a biennial budget until three days or less prior to July 1.

Read more here:
From Washington's Paramount Duty:

The House Democrats will release their budget next Monday, March 27 at 10:00 am and hear public testimony at 3:30 pm in the House Appropriations Committee Meeting. 

WPD certainly hopes that the Democrats' budget will include bold ideas to address our crisis in education funding and our upside down tax system, which is responsible for our education funding crisis.

We need parents, advocates, and allies to testify in Olympia on Monday, April 27 at 3:30 PM. We need to demand that massively wealthy companies and individuals to pay their fair share towards educating Washington’s children. We need to testify to new, sustainable revenue for fully funding education that does not take from vital state services and instead asks the wealthiest Washingtonians to pay their fair share.

Comment here and email Summer ( or Tali ( if you can testify.

House Appropriations Committee
House Hearing Rm A
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA 98504

Public Hearing:
HB 1067 - Making 2017-2019 fiscal biennium operating appropriations.

Here's a link to their Contact Your State Legislators page.


Anonymous said...

Liv Finne of Washington Policy Center

says THIS about the funding.

-- Dan Dempsey

Watching said...

The senate failed to bring the capital gains tax bill (SB 5111) to the floor for a vote There appeared to be a lot of game playing. Very possible the bill will be back.

Very important to keep an eye on Senate's supplemental per pupil calculation for the learning assistance program plans on the use of the poverty census data for estimating the number of students who qualify with an estimate of the number of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Hillary Shaw said...

The Washington Policy Center is not what it purports to be:

Different year, same spin by Liv Finne:

"The messaging advantages to “independent, non-partisan” are clear. However the litany of policy positions the Washington Policy Center has presented — creating a “right-to-work” state, touting the failures of the Affordable Care Act, arguing against our constitutional obligation to fund education, weakening climate legislation — obviously speak otherwise and therefore are misleading. The findings and recommendations on these issues they publish – just like Proposition 1 — are nothing more than propaganda masquerading as “key facts.” Through this process, they continuously stress to never take a position, instead hoping voters will make a deformed decision."

dan dempsey said...

Check out this article =>

Opinion: Senate plan tackles long-standing inequities in school funding

It has a link to tax rate changes for each of the 295 school districts under the proposed plan.

School Districts of
Wishram, North River, and Shaw Island paid $0 previously so it is a $1.55/thousand jump up for them

Seattle and Bellevue residents have increases of
$0.33 and $0.30

Olympia and North Thurston have declines of
$1.48 and $1.76

Watching said...

Senate Bill 5111 (capital gains tax) came to the floor for a vote. Many Democrats- including Senator Reuven Carlyle- were excused from the floor. These individuals did not participate in a vote count. Some of the individuals that were excused included Senator Reuven Carlyle, Senator Hobbs, Senator Frocket, Senator Mullet and others.

Anonymous said...

Watching, Hobbs and Frockt both voted no. Carlyle and Mullet and many other Ds had left the floor during the capital gains tax vote. That vote occurred after midnight following the marathon budget debate and vote. They didn't realize a vote on capital gains was even happening. They weren't excused. They were absent.

It's funny that Hillary comes here to school us all on the Washington Policy Center. Long time readers of this blog know who the WPC are and what they stand for. But I'd bet that these same long time readers think the Washington State Budget and Policy Center is a state agency. They are not. They are the left's version of WPC. They are a left-wing/progressive think tank that pushes progressive policy and budget solutions. They are funded by labor unions and progressive donors.

To use the parlance of this blog, the Washington State Budget and Policy Center is a labor astroturf organization. So is Washington's Paramount Duty. Their heart and soul may be run by volunteers, but they're funded by unions. Astroturf.


Melissa Westbrook said...

The Washington State Budget and Policy Center is not a governmental agency (just like this blog is not Seattle Schools). But at least the WSBPC seems to get money from a couple of different directions, none of them labor. As well, they certainly don't always give voice in the directions I might like to hear.

WPD has not released a donor list.

Teddy, if you make statements about who is funding who, you better have more than a hunch to back that up. If you do not, then say it's a hunch or better yet, say nothing.

Lastly, at least WSBPC writes in a mature, straightforward voice as opposed to the histrionic tone at WPC (at least on education matters).

Watching said...

Interesting. Regarding SB 5111, there looks to be a lot of drama. It appears that Republicans were trying to create a record of Ds supporting a capital gains tax. Some Dems were asked to be excused. The video shows some of these same individuals (Ds) on the Senate floor:

A bill to increase taxes requires greater than a 50% vote. Doubt the Senate would have provided supermajority.

Watching said...

Where can we find WPD's donor list?

Melissa Westbrook said...

You'd have to ask them for it. Here's the link for WPC.

Anonymous said...

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves in public education? This is a critical moment for this state to agree on a plan that will create a stable and equitable funding mechanism for a generation of students. Choose a horse and ride it! I choose WPD.