OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday signed legislation that will delay the so-called “levy cliff,” averting $358 million in cuts to K-12 schools in the next school year.

Senate Bill 5023, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, delays a scheduled reduction in the money school districts can collect through local property taxes already approved by voters. It also includes provisions intended to clarify how districts spend local levy dollars.

“This legislation offers relief to our students, teachers and administrators who no longer have to brace for substantial budget cuts next year,” Wellman said. “Compromise on this issue should provide hope for further cooperation in the Legislature on the larger McCleary school funding issue.”

In recent weeks, uncertainty surrounding the levy cliff created difficult scenarios for school districts budgeting for the next fiscal year, which begins Sept. 1, with the budgets facing imminent deadlines. Many districts faced multi-million dollar cuts that would have triggered layoffs and program cuts.

“Now that this distraction is behind us, we can focus all of our attention on a final budget that substantially increases funding and outcomes for our public schools,” Wellman said.