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.
“The Republican plan is unfair and imbalanced; it demands that families pay more while, at the same time, it pays our students less than they deserve,” said Rep. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver), a member of the House Finance Committee. “Under the Democratic plan, over the next four years, students receive 90% more in funding, and homeowners don’t see their property taxes skyrocket.”
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 Vancouver School District would get $599 less in per-pupil funding in School Year 2020-21 under the Republicans’ plan than under the Democrats’ plan. The Evergreen School District would see $669 less in per-pupil funding and the Battle Ground School District, $291 less.
In all three school districts, as well as in many others throughout the state, a smaller education funding investment also includes much higher property taxes. For example, under the Republican plan, taxpayers in the Vancouver School District would see almost $20 million in higher property taxes in 2021—that’s more than three times the hike in property taxes than under the Democratic proposal. Homeowners in Evergreen and Battle Ground would also end up paying more taxes, about 150% and 52% more respectively, under the Republican plan than under the Democratic plan. (Click here to see a Google Map of how both plans would impact other school districts 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.
“We need to make sure Washington kids have the best education possible, but not by putting the burden on working families,” Wylie added. “A better plan is to ask wealthy investors and large corporations to contribute fairly, like everyone else, toward the education of our state’s future workforce.”
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.