Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Not to be Outdone - Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats Offer Their Compensation/Levy Proposals, too...

Just when you thought the legislative session was going to close on the equitable funding discussion for McCleary, the House and Senate came out with Teacher Compensation proposals late last week.  The competing proposals would shift the funding for teacher compensation away from local taxpayers and over to the state.  The resulting shift would have the state to fully fund basic education and leave levies, as originally intended, to pay for additional enhancements. 

The Senate Republican version (SB 6109) features a levy swap – meaning that levy authorization would be reduced and the state would start collecting the property tax that it is allocated under state law.  This would mean that revenue would be allocated on a statewide average, and not based on the local economy.  The challenge, however, is equity for school districts which have higher property values and how to ensure that taxpayers are not paying more and getting less in those districts.  The bill results in a lot of complicated math which sent local school administrators scrambling back to their finance officers to see how the numbers affected them and the taxpayers they serve.
Senate Democrats offer a capital gains tax of 7% (SB 6104 and SB 6102), but it exempts home sales, and other investments.  It is believed that the total number of people affected by this proposal is 7,500 people statewide.  The House kicks the can down the road and develops a study committee to return to the legislature in 2017.   OSPI has developed its own answer to the problem and will reveal its funding proposal on Monday morning.  Although the Superintendent has his own plan, his staff had nice things to say about the Senate Republican proposal for its part in being the most complete answer to the McCleary question so far this cycle.  PTA McCleary Team leader Eden Mack appreciated the completeness of the proposal, but challenged the Senate to take local taxpayers into consideration and try to find a statewide financial solution that is fair, uniform, and equitable.
The legislature ends its regular 105 day session on April 26th.  It is highly likely that we will be going into a short special session to resolve the gap between all the parties involved.  After that, the Supreme Court will take up the issue once again to determine if the legislature has moved far enough down the road to warrant the contempt finding removed.

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