Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced a plan to phase in full funding of K-12 education for Washington students and get the state out from under the Supreme Court’s contempt of court ruling.
The plan will meet the needs of Washington’s one million school kids by addressing teacher compensation, reducing the reliance on local levies, shrinking class sizes and establishing a dedicated revenue source that asks the states multi-millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. This is in addition to the all-day kindergarten, school operating costs and K-3 class size reduction that both parties have agreed needs to be funded in this year’s operating budget.
The proposal centers around Sen. Christine Rolfes’ bill to implement full McCleary funding (SB 6104). Among the highlights are a new compensation system for all educational staff and a plan to implement the voter-approved class size reduction initiative.
“A great education for our students is dependent on having great teachers in every classroom,” Rolfes said. “Educator compensation has been the elephant in the McCleary room for a long time – any plan that will meet our obligations to our students and satisfy the court must address it. This is a reasonable and responsible proposal to ensure that as we come to solutions regarding education funding, we don’t stay silent on fundamental issues like compensation.”
Sen. Kevin Ranker is proposing a capital gains tax of the top 1/10th of 1 percent of the wealthiest in the state to begin funding the plan (SB 6102). He also introduced a constitutional amendment that will prevent capital gains levels from dropping below $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a household without a vote of the people (SJR 8206).
“Many of the wealthiest Washingtonians in our state want to do more and give back to the great state that they love,” Ranker said. “They understand that giving back and asking everyone to do their share makes our state a better place. These people have found success in our state. They want to make our schools stronger so that others can share in that success.”
The final part of the plan addresses the state’s need to take on levy reform (SB 6103). Sen. Jim Hargrove’s plan would return local levies to their intended purpose of paying for extras and ensuring that the state pays for all elements of a basic education.
As K-12 compensation is increased and the state takes on the obligation of compensation, there is a dollar for dollar reduction. For every dollar given to the schools in increased funding, local levy revenue is reduced by one dollar.
“Under this plan more than 98 percent of families in this state will see their property tax reduced or remain untouched,” Hargrove said. “This addresses two critical needs, the Supreme Court’s order and some tax relief for families throughout the state.”