Legislature to Pass Budget Today

I was actually going to give you all kinds of links and updates but here's all you really need to know - the Dems caved, schools will not be fully-funded and property-rich areas will pay for most of the increases.

Schools will get $7.3B more over the next four years.  This is not enough and is likely to not pass judicial muster for fully funding schools.  After this budget is passed, the Supreme Court will review the part that addresses McCleary and allow the plaintiffs to give their thoughts.  Any ruling on this issue would probably come at the end of the summer.

Robert Cruinkshank
Last year, McCleary plaintiffs said $5.6 billion needed just for next school year. $7.3b over 4 years won't cut it

- Property taxes will go up in Seattle/King County - by a lot.

Joe O'Sullivan
Rough numbers, Seattle will see $440/yr increase in property taxes for average house, Ranker says
-There will be a cap on the per dollar amount that local levies can ask for.

From Representative Zack Hutchins:

Initiative 1351
Staffing enrichments provided in the prototypical funding formula under Initiative 1351 are recodified in a different chapter of the RCWs. If additional staffing units are funded in future operating budgets, those units will then become a part of basic education.

By 2019-20, school districts must provide separate accounting of state and local revenues and expenditures data. The State Auditor must conduct regular financial audits to ensure districts are using local revenues in compliance with this act. 

Categorical programs
·         Career and Technical Education and Skills Center Programs’ class sizes reduced
·         Highly Capable Program allocation increased from 2.314 to 5 percent of a district’s enrollment
·         Additional Learning Assistance Program allocation for high poverty schools
·         Special Education allocation increased from 12.7 to 13.5 percent of a district’s enrollment
·         Increased Transitional Bilingual Program instruction in middle and high schools by two hours

Joe O'Sullivan
Another tax change in deal: B&O tax rate for all manufacturing comes down to Boeing's preferential rate, Ranker says.

Because much of the McCleary plan doesn't kick in for some time, Billig said lawmakers can tweak things if problems w/ plan.

On the public not being able to weigh in or even see the real actual budget in a timely manner:

Melissa Santos
 Lawmakers June Robinson and Dan Kristiansen are telling me public has had time to vet much of budget through past proposals

Tim Eyman
Mega-victories on the final budget deal - what's NOT in it is our biggest success
No income tax. No new capital gains tax.  No new carbon tax.  No increases in business taxes. 


While the legislature's proposed education funding plan includes a significant increase in funding for our public schools, it falls well short of what is required by the courts and the constitution. 

This deal runs a serious risk of failing to meet those requirements, failing to meet the pressing needs in classrooms across the state, and relies on unstable funding sources. If this deal passes, it may not mean the end of the McCleary case - this year, this decade, or this generation.

In 2016 Washington's Paramount Duty estimated the cost of fully funding public education - specifically, the basic education promised by the legislature in 2009 in bills ESSB 2261 and 2776 - to be about $8 billion a biennium. Legal counsel for the McCleary plaintiffs estimated the sum was $10 billion a biennium, with at least $5.6 billion needed just for the next school year alone in order to meet requirements for materials and operations, teacher salaries, and smaller class sizes.

The deal legislators reached this week would provide an extra $7.3 billion over the next four years. This is less than half the money required to fulfill the constitutional and court-enforced right to a fully and amply funded education.

This deal also undermines the voter-approved initiative to reduce class sizes, providing that smaller class sizes would only become part of a basic education requirement if the legislature chooses to fund it. This is circular logic, and flies in the face of evidence and common sense that students learn better and have all their needs met when teachers can provide more attention to them in a classroom with fewer students.

We have already heard from parents and teachers across the state who are concerned that the sweeping changes to teacher pay would make it even more difficult to attract and retain good teachers in our schools. Capping teacher pay at $90,000, as well as the elimination of the "staff mix" model and limits on bargaining, combine to limit the ability of teachers to make a living and remain as residents of our own communities.

The McCleary case was never about reforms to the way teachers are paid. We see no reason for these risky changes to be made, certainly not with so much haste and so little public scrutiny.

We are also troubled by the methods used to pay for this half measure. The Supreme Court held that education funding must be regular and dependable. A property tax increase does not meet that standard, especially when the legislature maintains a 1% cap in future years on property taxes. This has the effect of eroding the property tax revenues that go to schools, meaning it's no longer regular or dependable.

The legislature's decision to limit local levies is another risky move. If the legislature fails to adequately fund basic education, or if districts' costs rise above what legislators are willing to pay, those districts will be facing significant cuts, undermining the intent of the McCleary decision.

More importantly, using the property tax to fund schools is regressive and hurts the poor and the working families for whom a public education is particularly important. Many families will be unable to pay these costs, especially at a time when housing costs in many Washington cities are rising fast.

Washington State is home to some of the world's richest individuals - and yet we have the most regressive tax system in the United States. The legislature's decision to make poor people pay without asking the rich or big businesses to pay more is unconscionable, particularly when the same budget deal opens millions in new tax breaks for business.

We understand that legislators are worried about a government shutdown. We are too. On the other hand, it is hard to believe that avoiding a shutdown now is worth the price of continuing to underfund our schools and make poor people pay more in housing costs for years to come.

Students across Washington State are asked to attend schools that don't have heat in the winter, that don't have new textbooks, that don't have a full-time nurse on duty, that don't have librarians or new books, or counselors to help guide them to college or a career. It's not clear that this deal will fully address these and other urgent needs, particularly since there are no provisions for capital expenditures in this budget. We urge the legislature to urgently address capital requirements for schools by passing a bill that provides the $2 billion necessary to ensure children across Washington attend schools that are safe, secure and have the capacity to accommodate the lower class sizes that voters have voted for and that we know provide a better learning environment for all students. 

Legislators may be exhausted and tired after a few weeks of work. But parents are exhausted and tired after years of unpaid work to plug the gaps in funding for our underfunded public schools caused by legislators’ dereliction of their duty. We call on legislators to reject this deal and fix it to address the issues we have identified above. If they pass this education funding plan, we will have no choice but to urge the Supreme Court to reject it and order the legislature to do better.


Anonymous said…
"Because much of the McCleary plan doesn't kick in for some time, Billig said lawmakers can tweak things if problems w/ plan."

Could that "tweak" include doubling the budget and changing the tax sources after we vote Rossi and Reichert out in November?

Difficult situation
Anonymous said…
The Washington State Constitution limits the annual rate of property taxes that may be imposed on an individual parcel of property to 1% of its true and fair value. ... The aggregate limit for cities, counties and most special districts is $5.90 per $1,000 assessed value.

My property taxes have hit the limit. I can't see how people think taxes will increase, they can't exceed the limit regardless of whatever the state thinks. They would need to change the state constitution. There is also a initiative this year to cut out 25% of property taxes.

End PC
Jet City mom said…
IME, assessments are increased to allow increased revenue.


"It’s the fourth straight year of steep increases: Overall, the average property-tax bill has soared 35 percent since 2013, according to the county assessor’s office, though it can vary significantly from home to home because of the complex local tax system."

Snidely Whiplash said…
Raising rents in Seattle by increasing property taxes will push lower income families out of the city. And since lower income kids tend to score lower on standardized tests, this should raise average test score in the district. Which, I guess, is one way to close the gap. And SPS says this is their primary goal. So, way to go SPS! There you are meeting your goals.

If only we could focus on educating every child in the state and helping them all build the skills to progress. Kind of like the constitution says... But no. Apparently this isn't what voters want. Washington state voters apparently want to keep money in the pockets of corporations at the expense of kids. What morally admirable voters we have in this state.
Patrick said…
This is very disappointing. It will be very painful for low-income people in King County paying much higher property taxes and rents, while sparing high income individuals in low real estate value parts of the state. And for all that, it's not even a down payment on what needs to be done.

Washington public high school grads are not particularly competitive among applicants to nationally ranked colleges. So far, Washington tech companies have been able to import better educated workers from other parts of the country. I don't think that will continue indefinitely, now that real estate here is no longer a bargain compared to the S.F. Bay Area.
And that $7.3B to education? Not so fast. Because if districts, like Seattle, choose to continue having levies (and only for non-basic education), that levy rate has gone done. Not so sure that $7.3B is real in those terms.
Watching said…
OSPI reporting loss of $3B-$B levy dollars.

Bill to tax online products likely to go to court. Not stable funding source. Estimated to bring in about $900M.
HCC Parent said…
The legislature enhanced funding for highly capable. I expect the district to use those dollars for intended purposes. Professional development for teachers is needed.
Anonymous said…
Will the passage of this new budget change the waitlist process and help some schools next year, or will the ramifications roll out in 2018?

Not McClearly
Anonymous said…
The following appeared in The Olympian two days ago.

In the school-funding overhaul, lawmakers also agreed to a slew of changes in how the state pays teachers and other school employees. The changes will take effect by the 2019-20 school year.

For teachers, the average the state pays for a teacher will go up by $10,000, while the average the state allocates for an administrator will go up about $33,000. The state will pay an average of $12,600 more for classified staff positions, too. Lawmakers are providing additional money on top of those allocations for staff in school districts with high costs of living.

While increases in teacher salaries will likely strengthen the teacher corps in the long run by improving instruction overall, can the same be said for increasing administrator competence?

It will be interesting to see if the average raises turn out to be $10,000 for teachers and $33,000 for administrators in the budget bill as passed.

-- Dan Dempsey
Lynn said…
The district will no longer be able to use local levy funds to pay teachers and administrators. This will be a net pay cut for principals and vice principals in Seattle.

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