Monthly Archives: June 2017

Funding for education comes up short

June 30th, 2017|

June 30, 2017

Dear friends and neighbors,

Today has been a busy day in Olympia and I want to give you an update. As you may have already heard by now, the Legislature passed a two-year operating budget, just hours before the government would have shut down. While we narrowly averted a shutdown, state agencies and workers were already gearing up to begin layoffs and closures. Just the threat of a shutdown was costly to taxpayers, and it was as unnecessary as it is irresponsible to govern in that manner.

We had plenty of time to get this job done instead of waiting until the 11th hour.  The K-12 McCleary State Supreme Court ruling was given in 2012, more than five years ago. But here in the Legislature, we received the new K-12 education plan and details about the budget just this morning. I am deeply concerned that legislators and the public were not given enough time to truly review the documents and truly understand what we were being asked to vote on. I got through some of it, but seriously, no one could read the whole thing in the short amount of time we had. I expect there will be ‘unintended consequences’ that will require legislative fixes next session. 

While I am largely supportive of the policies in the state operating budget and the K-12 education plan, the lack of transparency and the funding mechanism prevented me from voting in favor of either measure.  In this case, the education policy was embedded in the bill with a $4.1 billion property tax increase that would disproportionately affect our district. The operating budget is based on the same unfair property tax increase.  This funding mechanism is unsustainable, and we will be back in the same situation after the temporary lift of the property tax cap ends in four (4) years. 

The 48th Legislative District is a high property value area; however, not everyone who lives here can afford this property tax increase. This property tax increase could mean housing instability for too many homeowners and renters in our district.

We had other options of how we might have funded K-12 education more progressively and fairer. These other options could have included a reasonable capital gains tax, or closing tax exemptions on large corporations in our state. Senate Republicans would not back away from their insistence on a significant statewide property tax, though the amount that ended up in the final budget was lower than originally proposed. All 295 school districts across the state will see a property tax increase beginning next year. At full implementation of the plan in our district, property taxes in the Bellevue School District will increase an average of $830.

Our homeowners already lift more than their fair share of the tax burden and support of today’s proposals would have further placed the tax burden on our fixed-, low-income, and working families.

I got into politics because of education and education funding. From a very early age, my parents instilled the importance and value of education into me. Access to a quality education is the best way to move up in the world. I do not take today’s vote lightly.

I remain ready and willing to work with my colleagues to find solutions for the unintended consequences these bills will raise as we begin to digest their effects to the seven million people living in Washington.

Best regards,

  • Permalink Gallery

    Kuderer bill addresses ST3 expansion, offers relief from high costs of vehicle license tabs

Kuderer bill addresses ST3 expansion, offers relief from high costs of vehicle license tabs

June 14th, 2017|

Senate Bill 5955 will offer car owners in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties some relief from increases to vehicle license tabs under the motor vehicle excise tax (MVET), one of the primary funding sources for the expansion of light rail, the sounder, and bus rapid transit under Sound Transit 3.

“There is no doubt that people across our region had sticker shock when it came time to renew their car license tabs earlier this year,” said the bill’s prime sponsor Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue. “I heard from many of my constituents who saw their license tabs increase anywhere from $50 to $100 or more. For low-income individuals or families living with a fixed income, this increase makes a big impact in their finances. The addition of a credit for car owners will help offset some of the costs while keeping Sound Transit projects moving forward.”

The bill creates a market value adjustment program that will provide taxpayers with a credit for the difference between the vehicle depreciation schedule in current law and the 2006 depreciation schedule. The 2006 depreciation schedule has a deprecation rate that is lower for newer cars. Taxpayers will receive a one-time credit of the difference for taxes paid in 2017. The bill requires Sound Transit to implement the slated transportation projects in a manner that allows the delivery of the system and financing plan approved by the voters in 2016. Kuderer is working with her colleagues and the Senate Republican Majority to get the bill a hearing during the second special legislative session.

In November, voters approved the expansion of Sound Transit 3 and the increase in the motor vehicle excise tax. Specifically for the Eastside of King County, the transportation package includes expansion of light rail and two new bus rapid transit corridors. The legislature has grappled with a solution to the financial challenges families are experiencing because of the passage of Sound Transit 3. The Senate and the House of Representatives each have a different approach to address the topic.

“In the Senate we have passed the same flawed Republican bill along party lines, three times now,” said Kuderer. “Accepting a bill that could jeopardize the bond rating of the state, subject taxpayers to costly lawsuits, and put these critical transportation projects in limbo is not an option. We are running out of time for a resolution during this session. My constituents should not have to wait until next January for action on this issue.”

Senate Bill 5955 requires the regional transit authority to submit annual reports to the legislature on the status of the delivery of the projects in the plan. The bill also contains an emergency clause making it effective as soon as it is signed into law.