Monday, March 19, 2012

Waiting for compromise

Various proposals

Leaders from the parties and respective chambers should be negotiating a supplemental budget. Last week the governor expressed frustration at lack of movement. Veto threat.
Senators released a new proposal last week that protected K-12 education funding -- "basic education" as well as enhancement programs that help struggling learners and that promote literacy, math and science, and educator development.
  • Early learning funding is maintained at present levels.
  • Cuts to the Office of the Education Ombudsman are trimmed to 5 percent, from 30 percent, and are no longer retroactive.
  • New investments in K-12 education -- needed to meet the state's paramount constitutional duty and comply with the McCleary decision -- are not addressed, other than to create another study group.
  • At issue are cuts to the safety net that leaders in the majority party oppose. There is also a difference of opinion over pension reform and payment.
The latest from Senators (minority party plus crossover votes) also includes funding for a charter school bill introduced in January. That bill did not make it out of committee and has not been taken up by either chamber. WSPTA has not taken a position on the bill, but has suggested ways to improve it. Feedback on charter school bill, SB 6202
WSPTA position on the budgeting process:

Washington State PTA advocates for the well-being and education of all children.
We asked legislators to protect Apple Health for Kids so that families (especially those struggling with layoffs) could purchase health insurance for their children.
  • They have done so and the association is deeply appreciative.
We have asked legislators to fund the Program of Basic Education and maintain current enhancement funding for K-12.
  • They did not cut the school year or redefine basic education to be less, but unfortunately they have not addressed how they will increase funding.
  • A bill that would have closed a tax exemption and put money into all-day kindergarten (HB 2791) failed to get the two-thirds majority in the House. (It did get a simple majority, and we thank the legislators who supported it, especially the lead sponsors Representatives Lytton, Jinkins, Ladenburg and Billig)
  • A bill to close two tax exemptions and put the savings into reducing K-3 class sizes (SB 5903) has been introduced by Senator Murray but has not yet had a hearing.
We remain concerned about cuts to the safety net that will affect children and families.

Washington State PTA supports tax policies that are fair, equitable and provide stable, adequate resources for public education and for programs the benefit children.

The association opposes budget policies, deficit reduction efforts and other legislative proposals that negatively impact funding for child-related programs.

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