[2/2/17] Legislative Update
Democratic lawmakers and the governor released their education funding plans a couple weeks ago. Since then they’ve been waiting for their Republican counterparts to unveil theirs, so negotiations could begin. The GOP plan dropped Monday, and majority Democrats in the House quickly weighed in.
Representative Kristine Lytton [LIT-TON] chairs the House Finance Committee and was a Democratic lead on the bipartisan education-funding task force that met for the past several months.
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“…And that’s not good for kids.”
Lytton was a public school director in Anacortes before she came to the Legislature. She said districts like hers could be among those that would suffer under the Republican plan.
GOP lawmakers say the plan repeals the K-12 prototypical school funding allocation model for basic education and instead uses a simpler per pupil allocation funding allocation model. It requires a permanent local contribution and a state minimum funding level to provide a guaranteed funding amount that each school district receives. The levy reform is expected to bring in $2 billion a year for education, and the state would also spend an additional $700 million, though Republicans say they can do that with existing resources. Most of the measure would be subject to a referendum to voters in Novembers.
12th District Senator Brad Hawkins told KOHO putting more money into education on a per-student basis is the right way to meet the Supreme Court order.
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“…things that cost more.”
The proposal also calls for the end of local Maintenance and Operations Levies. Hawkins said they want to replace it with a state Local Effort Levy – a flat amount for every school district.
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“…to the school districts.”
Local districts could still raise additional money with voter approval, but the amount would be capped and could only pay for extras, not basic education. One of the main findings of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision was that districts were being forced to depend too much on levy dollars to pay for basic education needs like teacher salaries.
The funding plan proposed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee would rely on taxes on carbon emissions and capital gains, and increasing part of the state business-and-occupation tax. Inslee also called for curtailing some state tax exemptions.
Sen. Andy Billig, a Democrat from Spokane and a member of the bipartisan Education Funding Task Force, said the GOP plan was a start.
Billig said now that Republicans put out a plan, “finally we can start negotiating.”