House Democrats pass education funding plan — What’s next?
February 24, 2017 | By Washington House Democrats
As week seven of session ends, we want to update you all on the important work done to ensure we fully-fund education for our kids. The House of Representatives voted this week to approve HB 1843, a bill that would ensure every child receives opportunities to learn.
Every element of the House bill stems from the question “What’s best for kids?” That is why we were proud to join our Democratic colleagues in voting YES.
Closing the opportunity gap
In the plan, Democrats address the concerns we’ve heard from constituents, taking a significant step toward closing the opportunity gap and improving student outcomes in Washington state. Our plan calls for new investments in:
- Learning assistance to help struggling students keep up with their peers;
- Transitional programs to help bilingual students;
- Class-size reductions for career and technical education and skill centers; and,
- Parent-involvement coordinators and guidance counselors.
A high quality teacher in every classroom
Democrats are striving to end the teacher-shortage crisis through educator recruitment and retention investments. Our bill affirms our commitment to our educator workforce by paying new teachers a fair salary, providing additional professional learning opportunities, and ensuring their compensation keeps up with market rates.
The Senate Republican plan is wrong for kids
Unfortunately, the Senate Republican plan has some troubling provisions that we cannot support. Their bill:
- Cuts learning support services for low-income kids;
- Reduces teacher pay over time and/or increases class sizes;
- Eliminates local levies for a year, which will significantly impact after-school programs, sports, clubs, music, and other locally-approved education enhancements; and,
- Reduces local levy capacity by about two-thirds, taking away local control of when and where dollars flow into schools.
Both sides agree new revenue is needed
Neither plan can be done within existing revenue sources. Democrats and Republicans agree the state needs new revenue sources to solve this problem.
The House plan is estimated to cost roughly $7.5 billion over the next four years. In the coming weeks, lawmakers will be unveiling ideas to pay for this proposal. Ideas that have been discussed previously include raising revenue from corporate polluters, out-of-state businesses taking advantage of outdated and wasteful tax exemptions, and capital gains of wealthy investors.
The Senate Republican plan is estimated to cost $8.8 billion over the next four years. Their plan largely relies on a massive property tax hike on middle-class and working families, mostly in King County and all of the 34th District. This is unacceptable – we will not support a plan that funds education on the backs of those in our communities who can least afford it. And even with their property tax increase, their plan still falls roughly $2.5 billion short, meaning Republicans must propose cuts to other state services like higher education, public safety, foster care, low-income health care, and housing. We are committed to funding K-12 education without sacrificing important services that so many in our community rely on.
Now that each side has offered proposals, negotiators will work on a path toward compromise that will ensure public schools are fully funded for Washington’s one million school kids. Please know that your representatives from the 34th will be working hard to advocate on your behalf and ensure our children’s future education.
Thanks for reading!