Democratic plan a clear win-win for students, middle class families, and small businesses

OLYMPIA – Most areas of the state could see a sharp property tax increase under the Senate Republicans’ K-12 education funding plan. Yet despite the increase, total funding per student is less under the Republicans’ plan than under the one proposed by House Democrats.

“When you compare apples to apples, the Democrats’ plan provides 90% more in per-student funding over four years than the Republicans’ plan,” said Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, who also chairs the House Appropriations committee. “And yet, nearly every family and small business in the state gets hit with a property tax increase under the Republicans’ plan. You pay more, and get less.”

According to nonpartisan House Office of Program Research committee staff, Spokane Public Schools would get nearly $30 million less in state funding over four years under the Republicans’ plan than under the Democratic plan. The East Valley School District would get nearly $5 million less.

Despite the smaller education funding investment, the Republicans’ plan raises property taxes across the Spokane Public Schools District by nearly $3 million by 2021. East Valley School District would see an increase of almost $1 million during the same period.

The state is under court order to increase education spending, which nearly all lawmakers agree requires new revenue sources. Republicans have endorsed a plan that generates 100% of the new revenue through $5.5 billion in higher state property taxes over four years while Democrats favor a more progressive approach.

While both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature agree new revenue is necessary to fully fund K-12 education, the plan proposed by House Democrats helps working families keep more of their paychecks by asking the wealthiest Washingtonians to pay their fair share.

“The court has ordered us to fully fund our schools and we can do this if we work together,” said Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “But we have to do it responsibly without cutting services for Washington’s most vulnerable citizens, or raising taxes on small business owners and middle-class families, while at the same time letting big corporations off scot-free. Both sides recognize that new revenue is needed. What is most important is that we find a common middle ground that is fiscally responsible, isn’t balanced on the backs of working households, and delivers for all Washingtonians.”

Additionally, under the House Democrats’ plan, small businesses would get a break in the form of an exemption from the Business & Occupation tax. More than 72% of businesses in Washington state would pay no Business & Occupation tax at all under the Democratic small business tax relief proposal.

The Legislature is nearing the end of the first special session of 2017. Senate Republican leaders continue to refuse invitations from Democrats to negotiate a compromise operating budget, making a second special session all but certain. If GOP lawmakers fail to come to the table to discuss a compromise by June 30, the state government could shut down July 1.

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The Google Map linked here has information pertaining to the net increase in funding per student with both plans as well as the net property tax increase.


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