Washington State House Democrats


State Republicans’ education funding plan shortchanges South King County students

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.

“If you compare the two proposals apples to apples over the next four years, students receive 90% more in funding from the Democratic plan. Republicans are proposing a property tax increase that forces everyone to pay more, but pays out less than our students deserve,” said Rep. Steve Bergquist (D-Renton), member of the House Education Committee and a public school teacher.

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.

According to nonpartisan House Office of Program Research committee staff, the Renton School District would get $1,185 less in per pupil funding in 2021 under the Republicans’ plan than under the Democrats’ plan. The Federal Way School District would get $1,315 less in per-pupil funding.

In most cases, a smaller education funding investment also includes much higher property taxes. For example, taxpayers in Auburn School District get about $1,200 less in per pupil funding under the Republican plan and would see an increase of nearly $9 million in property taxes over the next four years—10 percent higher property taxes than under the Democratic proposal. (Click here to see a Google Map of how both plans would affect other South King 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, according to Bergquist.

“Both Democrats and Republicans are asking Washingtonians to pay more to fully fund education. But the Republicans are taxing all working families, while Democrats are asking wealthy investors and large corporations to pay a fair share for our schools,” Bergquist said.

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 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.