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.
“Ensuring our schools are fully funded so our kids can get a high-quality education is the primary reason I ran for office,” said Rep. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek), member of the House Education Committee. “I spent my summer last year visiting every school in my legislative district. I can tell you Washington state could have the best public education system in the country if lawmakers keep their promise to fully fund our schools.”
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 percent of the new revenue through $5.5 billion in higher state property taxes over four years, while Democrats favor a more progressive approach.
According to nonpartisan House Office of Program Research committee staff, the Everett School District would get $791 less in per-pupil funding in School Year 2020-21 under the Republicans’ plan than under the Democrats’ plan. The Mukilteo School District would see $1,051 less in per-pupil funding.
In many cases, a smaller education funding investment also includes much higher property taxes. For example, taxpayers in the Edmonds School District get $918 less in per pupil funding under the Republican plan and would see $34 million in higher property taxes in 2021—which is more than double the hike in property taxes than under the Democratic proposal. Homeowners in Everett and Mukilteo would also end up paying more taxes, about 33% and 75% more respectively, under the Republican plan than under the Democratic plan. (In this Google Map you can see how both plans would impact other Snohomish County schools and taxpayers.)
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.
“There’s no question we need more revenue to comply with the court mandate, but putting the burden on working families, which is what the Senate Republican plan does, is frankly unfair,” said Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self (D-Mukilteo), a school counselor who also sits on the House Education Committee. “Our proposal asks wealthy investors and large corporations to step up and pay a fair share for the education of Washington’s school kids.”
Additionally, under the House Democrats’ plan, small businesses would get a break in the form of an exemption from the Business & Occupation tax. Seventy-two percent 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 are still not accepting invitations from Democrats to negotiate a final 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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This Google Map has information pertaining to the net increase in funding per student with both plans as well as the net property tax increase.