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    Chase: Landmark education bill adds $7.3 billion to Washington schools at a price

Chase: Landmark education bill adds $7.3 billion to Washington schools at a price

August 9th, 2017|

OLYMPIA – In the final hours before a state government shutdown, the Legislature passed a landmark education bill that will add billions of dollars to public schools in Washington state over the next four years. Passage of this bill addresses the chronic underfunding of K-12 schools called out in the state Supreme Court’s McCleary case.

“This budget makes large investments in education and reflects the core values and principles that Democrats have advocated for over the last five years,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds. “This education plan ensures more equity between low- and high-income districts and students and provides additional funds for students with individual needs. That being said, the investments made to our state’s education system do not come without a price. The insistence by Senate Republicans on a statewide property tax to pay for the plan will hit people at home the hardest. It was not what Democrats wanted but unfortunately, a property tax increase was all the Republicans would consider. While I support many of the positive changes the education plan makes, I could not support the bill with its current funding mechanism. The investments made to education come from somewhere and robbing the already empty pockets of home owners is not a fair way to fund education.”

House Bill 2242 takes numerous steps toward closing the opportunity gap including increasing salaries and salary equity for educators, providing additional funding for special education and for low-income districts. The bill also increases funds for career and technical education and ensures locals may retain control of their levies while also adding common sense transparency and accountability measures to how levies are spent.

“We have 1.1 million school kids, thousands of educators, and families who are counting on the legislature to do its job and fulfill the promises it has made,” said Chase. “When our kids are able to reach their fullest potential, our state, economy, and society benefit as a result.”

The education bill passed with bipartisan support out of both chambers of the Legislature (67-26 out of the House of Representatives, and 32-17 out of the Senate).

Another piece to the K-12 education puzzle is addressing the overcrowding of classrooms across the state. The legislature adjourned for the time being without adopting a capital budget, which had over $1 billion allocated for school construction.

“The capital budget is not only vital for local infrastructure projects and providing jobs all across our state, it is critical to making sure new classrooms and schools are upgraded and built,” said Chase. “We have lost major progress in creating smaller class sizes without the ability to build new classrooms. This is a problem that must be remedied.”

At the end of the third special legislative session, Senate Republicans refused to move forward on the capital budget without a fix for a rural water rights issue known as the “Hirst decision.” While the legislature is not currently in session, negotiations are taking place to try to find a solution so a capital budget may move forward.

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To view a summary of impacts of the bill, please click here.
To review estimated school district tax impacts of the bill, please click here.

 

Seattle Met Magazine: A Single-Payer Plan in Washington?

July 13th, 2017|

The following “Explainer” appeared on Seattle Met’s website on July 13, 2017 and appears in the August 2017 issue:

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    Commentary: Compromise needed now on state water rights bill

Commentary: Compromise needed now on state water rights bill

July 6th, 2017|

The following op-ed originally appeared in the Everett Herald, June 29, 2017:

Commentary: Compromise needed now on state water rights bill

  • Thu Jun 29th, 2017 1:30am
  • Opinion

By Maralyn Chase

Water is life. Plants, animals, people and cities depend on water to survive. In 2016, the state Supreme Court ruled in Whatcom County v. Hirst, et al., that the county had failed to comply with Growth Management Act requirements to make sure there is enough water, physically and legally, to protect water resources.

Thus far, the Hirst decision has been framed as an urban vs. rural, east vs. west, Republican vs. Democrat issue. Making sure there is enough water for all living things to thrive is sound environmental policy. Senate Republicans’ insistence on a “my way or the highway” approach to this statewide problem is a reckless game of chicken that cannot have any winners, only losers.

It is time for Senate Republicans to stop taking bills hostage, especially the capital budget. There is too much at stake. Our communities are suffering and need the infrastructure investments offered in the capital budget. No community is without its share of problems, from homelessness, to the opioid epidemic, to the need for increases in mental health services. The capital budget cannot be the Hirst decision’s collateral damage.

Let us also not forget the more than $60 million appropriated for “big water” in the capital budget. “Big water” is how our state’s farmers irrigate their 36,000 farms for more than 300 crops each year. By contrast, the Hirst decision is “small water,” affecting developers drilling wells without permits for domestic use into a diminishing aquifer. Without a capital budget, none of the “big water” projects move forward, and the farmers’ crops may not receive the water needed to survive. With a capital budget and the Senate Republican Hirst solution, “big water” and “small water” are satisfied but senior water rights and those held by tribes, referred to as “ancient water,” and water law are in chaos.

The Legislature is no stranger to fundamental disagreements over issues involving water. Central to the Hirst decision are instream flow rules and senior water rights. In the mid-1970s, the state began adopting instream flow rules to protect rivers, streams and other bodies of water from excessive withdrawals of water. The proposed Senate Republican “fix” to this issue would essentially bust water law wide open and subject the state to another lawsuit, and property owners with further delays. We need a compromise that considers the classic interrelationship of land and water. We need integrated efforts at the state and county levels to solve this problem, like those that have been previously reported in this paper.

Water is a precious resource, and the stakes are high for those who are in control of it and those who are in need. There is a long list of powerful stakeholders involved in this issue. Some may truly want a solution that fixes the problem; however, to some it is likely that the problem is worth more than the solution. It is far easier to point the finger of blame when there is no solution, than come to the negotiating table in good faith.

State Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, is the ranking Democratic member on the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade &Economic Development Committee.

Chase: Property tax plan hits middle class hardest

July 6th, 2017|

Sen. Maralyn Chase speaks against the Senate Republican property tax plan to fund K-12 basic education.

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    Chase: Family vacations at state parks cancelled without state budget

Chase: Family vacations at state parks cancelled without state budget

June 26th, 2017|

OLYMPIASen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, issued the following statement four days ahead of a state government shutdown and after more than 11,000 state park reservation, cancellation notices were sent out last week:

“Summertime in Washington’s state parks is the busiest time of the year. Thousands of families have planned, sometimes months in advance, to reserve space in our state parks for weddings, family reunions, and vacations. Without a state budget by July 1, those plans could have been all for naught as our state parks will be closed. Senate Republicans are unnecessarily causing thousands of families stress and anxiety as they scramble to find a backup plan.

“With over 30 million visitors to our state parks annually, their visits contribute more than $1.4 billion to the state’s economy and $64 million in state general fund tax receipts. The tourism industry in our state relies on state parks and public lands to provide jobs, especially in small, rural towns. A state government shutdown and subsequent closure of state parks could have devastating short and long-term impacts to local economies relying on tourism. A recent report itemized out the fiscal impact on the local economies in all 49 legislative districts. The potential revenue loss in each district for recreation, in state park lands alone, is staggering.

“With four days ahead of a state government shutdown, there is still time to adopt a two-year budget. Washington’s families with reservations at our state parks are counting on us to not ruin their Fourth of July.”

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Impacts of a state government shutdown would be damaging

June 23rd, 2017|

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, issued the following statement seven days ahead of the end of the state’s fiscal year on June 30:

“With July 1 right around the corner, the state legislature appears to be unable to perform its legal obligation of passing a two-year budget. If the state legislature cannot agree upon a budget by the said date, the government will shut down, furloughing tens of thousands of public employees across the state. In fact, most of the layoff notices have already gone out. Our state workers provide for their families, serve their communities, and contribute to their local economy with their government jobs and salary. Thus, a state government shutdown affects not only the individual, but endangers the health of the state’s communities and economies.

“A state government shutdown will not only cut crucial services to each legislative district, but hinder all the local economies. Furloughing our government workers could lead to the suspension of the delivery of vital services to citizens, and delay the construction of capital projects. The employees who perform these duties provide for their families and contribute to their local economy with their salaries. A state government shutdown could halt or potentially cripple economic activity statewide.

“As we approach the fiscal cutoff, I believe it is important to look at the number of government employees in each of the legislative districts. These are the state workers who will not be able to reliably put food on the table, pay rent, or have access to their health care.

“Allowing our state to go over the fiscal cliff without an operating budget and furloughing thousands of state workers from their jobs without pay because the legislature is unable to do its job is immoral.”

 

 

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    Chase: “This matters now; reliance on property tax perpetuates the pain of unfair tax system”

Chase: “This matters now; reliance on property tax perpetuates the pain of unfair tax system”

June 21st, 2017|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, is working on a set of bills focused on limits to the state’s property tax rates and removing the tax exemptions on intangible property, like stocks and bonds.

“These bills show that there are additional sources of revenue out there that we haven’t even begun to consider,” said Chase. “We need to have a real conversation about our state’s unfair tax system. To have a multi-billion dollar property tax hike pushed through the legislative process at the last possible second by the Senate Republicans is no way to govern. The Senate Republican plan to increase property taxes to fund our schools is irresponsible. We already know that our state is dead last in the nation when it comes to our tax structure, so why would we even consider placing the majority of the tax burden on our low-income and working families with an increase in property tax?”

Chase’s slate of bills include:

  • Senate Bill 5948, Restoring intangible property taxation;
  • Senate Bill 5959, Establishing a capital gains tax;
  • Senate Bill 5960, Taxing intangible personal property;
  • Senate Bill 5961, Changing the business and occupation tax from a gross receipts tax to a net receipts tax; and,
  • Senate Bill 5962, Lowering the property tax levy limit from one percent to zero to prohibit certain annual property tax increases.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy has consistently ranked Washington state as having the most upside down tax system in the United States. This means that the lowest 60 percent of earners pay the highest percentage of their income in overall taxes. How did our state develop this unfair tax system? Over time, the legislature has allowed exemptions of certain types of property, by removing some property from the tax base, and from confusing types of tax procedures. For example:

  1. Property taxation:
    1. The State of Washington taxes all property unless the Legislature or the State Constitution specifically exempts the property. (Currently stocks and bonds are exempted by the Legislature but there are many more examples of these exemptions such as, churches, non-profits, etc. are exempted by the Constitution.)
  2. Tax Shifts:
    1. An exemption means some owners of property are not required to pay property taxes, which results in a tax shift to people who do not have an exemption.
    2. The Legislature has created two classes of people: people who pay property tax and people who do not pay property tax.
    3. This has been accomplished by simply removing some property from the tax base.

All taxpayers are permitted to own property but the Legislature is not always going to tax it: Taxpayers can buy all the stocks and bonds and other intangible property they want: it will no longer be taxed as called for in the State Constitution, Article 7, Section 1: Taxation

  1. When the Legislature repeals the intangible property tax exemption, the total property value in the tax base increases causing the property tax rate to decrease. This shifts taxes back to the exempt property owner causing other taxpayers to pay less but usually results in no potential revenue gains for the state. This is a more equitable model for taxpayers.

“This debate matters right now,” said Chase. “Our state has an opportunity to not only make our tax system fairer, but also pay for our kid’s education as is our state’s paramount duty. The people who don’t currently have a property tax exemption should not have to shoulder the tax burden for the entire state. We would not be making progress if that’s the only option we are presented.”

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    Chase introduces the Healthy Washington Program, legislation creating universal single-payer health care

Chase introduces the Healthy Washington Program, legislation creating universal single-payer health care

June 14th, 2017|

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, on Wednesday introduced legislation that will create a universal single-payer healthcare program in the State of Washington. Senate Bill 5957, modeled after California’s successful Senate Bill 562, will create the Healthy Washington Program that will be open to all Washington residents.

“Access to health care is a fundamental basic right,” said Chase. “With the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act, the people of Washington need to know that we have a backup option for health care in our state. This bill will allow the people to take control of their health care through the implementation of a statewide single-payer system. We have too many people living in terror of getting sick and not being able to afford it.”

The Healthy Washington Program will be open to all residents, and will obtain waivers for Medicaid, Medicare, the Exchange, Affordable Care Act programs, and other relevant federal programs. Enrollees in the program will not be required to pay a premium, copayment, coinsurance, deductible or other cost sharing. Under the bill, all licensed healthcare providers may participate and all members shall have a care coordinator. Health plans outside the Healthy Washington Program are prohibited from offering coverage for any service covered by the program. The federal funds and subsidies will be paid to the Healthy Washington Trust.

The Healthy Washington Board will govern the program, will apply for all necessary waivers, and will negotiate rates with providers. The board will have nine members appointed by the governor, two members each appointed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the Director of the Health Care Authority. The board will adopt payment methodologies and ensure that all payments are reasonable and related to the cost of services. The board will also negotiate for the payment of prescription drugs.

“People going into severe debt because of medical costs should not be the norm,” said Chase. “Medical debt is the number one reason for filing for bankruptcy in the United States. There is more that we must do to move access to affordable health care forward in our state and in our country.”

In this stage, the Healthy Washington program does not have a dedicated revenue source; however, under the bill the legislature is tasked with developing a plan with all future revenue to be deposited in the Healthy Washington Trust Fund.

The policies introduced in Senate Bill 5957 will take effect when the Healthy Washington Board indicates there is enough revenue in the fund to fully implement the provisions in the act.

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    Chase: “Washington state robbing kids of most important rite of passage”

Chase: “Washington state robbing kids of most important rite of passage”

June 6th, 2017|

OLYMPIA Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds, issued the following statement as more than 15,000 high school seniors will fail to graduate because of not passing one or more statewide high stakes tests:

“While budget negotiators in Olympia continue to receive 30-day extensions to complete their work; more than 15,000 high school seniors in our state are simply out of time. For many, graduation day has already come and gone. There is no going back.

“When did petty political gamesmanship become more important than truly making a difference for thousands of young Washingtonians? Our state cannot rob our kids of one of the most important rites of passage.

“For 81 percent of our state’s public high school graduating seniors, high stakes testing is not an issue. These students passed all three state required tests for graduation: English Language Arts, Math, and Biology. However, for the 15,645 students that failed one or more of these tests, this is an issue. Particularly, special education students, English language learners, low-income, and students of color are disproportionately impacted by the requirement to pass high stakes tests to graduate. Over 10 years of high stakes testing research and experience in our state shows that instead of positive outcomes, we have an achievement gap that grows wider each year. The state does not require private schools to administer these tests as a requirement for graduation.

“The House of Representatives has voted on a bipartisan bill to completely delink high stakes test results from graduation requirements three times this year. Unfortunately, when it is the Senate Republican Majority’s turn to act they push for only delinking the biology exam, thereby ignoring the bulk of the students who are penalized by these tests.  I view this lack of action as a failure of leadership and of governance.

“One of my young constituents contacted me with a desperate plea after failing the English exam by one point. Only one point stands between this student and their high school diploma. High school graduation is the touchpoint by which you measure your life. We ought to show our high school seniors that state government can be an instrument of good and change lives for the better.

“The quality of our students’ education is more important than test results. Scholars and researchers recognize that the Smarter Balanced assessments were not designed to assess whether a student should be advanced to another grade level or if a student has demonstrated the competencies to graduate from high school. In short, by continuing to require passage of all three high stakes tests we are perpetuating a highly flawed system.

“Washington state is currently on the wrong side of history on this issue, as one of thirteen states, down from 27, across the United States with high stakes tests in place for the graduating class of 2017. Increasingly, offices of college admissions recognize that a student’s high school record is a more accurate prediction of success in higher education than a standardized test. By making standardized tests optional at the college level, schools are able to obtain more diversity without any loss in academic quality. It is a ‘win-win’ for both students and schools.

“I believe that our students should be accountable for their education; however, that accountability must not rob them of their future, or one of life’s precious milestones. These kids’ hearts are breaking.”

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For more information, interviews: Nicole Vukonich, Communications, 360-786-7326

 

 

 

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    Tax Talk with Sen. Maralyn Chase – Video 2: Tax Exemptions

Tax Talk with Sen. Maralyn Chase – Video 2: Tax Exemptions

April 4th, 2017|

In this episode of Tax Talk with Sen. Maralyn Chase, she introduces the concept of tax exemptions in Washington State.