Dear Friends and Neighbors,
It has been another busy week here in Olympia. We have passed another important deadline – the “House of Origin” cutoff. This deadline is the last chance for all bills introduced in the House to pass from the House, and likewise for Senate bills introduced in the Senate. In this week’s e-newsletter, I will update you on one of the major issues that came up during this week’s floor action and share some good news on charter schools.
As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter and stay informed on what’s happening in your Legislature. I hope you take a moment to share your thoughts with me on the issues I covered in this update, and any other issues important to you, your family or your business.
A Plan for a Plan is Not a Plan …
On Thursday the House took up SB 6195, which creates another education funding task force to make recommendations to address school district’s overreliance on local property tax levies. These levies are used to pay for basic education, improve quality and lower costs for teachers and school staff health care, improve financial reporting by school districts and overall education spending. While these are all critically important components necessary to continue our progress on fully funding basic education to meet our constitutional obligation, a plan for a plan is not a plan, and ultimately I had to vote against the bill. The governor’s informal McCleary work group covered these same tasks already. We don’t need another workgroup to study these issues to death.
Additionally, this bill has constitutionality issues of its own since it binds the 2017 legislature to act to eliminate dependence on local levies for basic education. If we remove the local levy authority and transfer that taxing authority to the state, the so-called “levy swap,” who is to say that these levies won’t start creeping back up again in a few years? Additionally, the bill includes language on teacher shortages, which is not even part of the McCleary decision. Further, the Legislature would have no control over the independent consultant hired under this bill, nor the outcome of the data collection.
There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. It needs to be done right, so we don’t find ourselves in a similar situation a couple of years down the road. While we are still on track to meet our 2018 deadline, this bill falls short of addressing how we are going to fully fund education.
Charter school fix bill is finally moving!
Good news! Progress is finally being made on a fix to our charter schools! SB 6194, the companion to HB 2367, which I co-sponsored, received a public hearing in the House Education Committee today and has already been scheduled for an executive session on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 8:00 a.m. As I mentioned in my last e-newsletter, I believe we owe it to our 1300 charter school students to reinstate charter schools, to provide an education that fits their individual needs. I am hopeful for a quick floor vote on this bill so we can end the uncertainty for our charter school families.
Yours in service,
418 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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