Friday, March 27, 2015

McCleary Funding - Better - But Still Falls Short

The Washington State House of Representatives offered up their version of the 2015-17 biennial budget today.  Representatives Patrick Sullivan, Ross Hunter and Reuven Carlyle held a press conference at 11:30AM.  As was widely expected, the House Democrats raised the bar on funding McCleary, but many people believe that even this effort falls short of what will be necessary to completely fund basic education.  Washington State PTA McCleary Issue Team lead Eden Mack reviewed the budget after the press conference.  She shared with us her thoughts on the long road that we will need to take in order to see the dream of an amply funded education system become a reality.  

"I think that our Legislators need to remember that the Paramount duty of the state is to amply fund basic education (K-12, not early learning or higher ed) for ALL children, not just some.  The House budget gets a bit closer to the mark, but it is still not nearly enough. As Superintendent Dorn has said, we need at least 4.5 billion more to meet McCleary this biennium just for operations, and 1.4 billion is far short of that.  With all of the proposed budgets currently on the table not meeting the mark, the question becomes: what sanctions will the Supreme Court bring down at the end of session?"

The House Budget proposal includes the following:
  • K-3 Class Size Reduction - $412 million
  • Textbooks, Supplies, and Operating Costs (MSOC) $741 million
  • All Day Kindergarten - $180 million
  • College and Career Readiness - $70 million

Funding for these changes are proposed to come from the following resources:
  • 5% Capital Gains Tax on investors who receive $25,000 individually or $50,000 as a couple
  • Raising the B&O Tax on services gross receipts from 1.5% to 1.8% and increasing the exemption for small business from $56,000 to $100,000
  • Changing the rules on sales tax in border counties from exemption to reimbursement
  • Repeal the exemption for bottled water
  • Repeal exemption for extracted fuel
  • Limit the real estate excise tax on foreclosure sales
  • Eliminate the preferred B&O tax rate on royalty income, travel agents, and prescription drug re-sellers

After reviewing the proposal, Washington State PTA Legislative Director Sherry Krainick said "I feel this proposal may be the high water mark for McCleary funding."  She, along with others, expect a much smaller revenue package from the Senate.  “I think that unless there are some future attempts to expand revenue to address some of the shortfalls Eden mentioned, we still fall short.  The PTA will be eagerly anticipating the efforts by Senators on fulfilling the promise of McCleary.”

The budget will be heard Monday in committee, then voted on by the House Appropriations Committee the following day.  It is expected to be passed off the House Floor next week.  You can read the budget in its entirety here.

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