We are nearing the end of the 2017 regular legislative session which is scheduled to adjourn, Sine Die, on April 23. Both budgets are out and here are a few things to know:

  • To address the McCleary ruling, the House Democrats’ plan would raise $3 billion in new revenue over two years, mainly from new taxes on capital gains, raise in the B&O on certain business categories, graduated real estate excise tax, collection of sales tax on online purchases from out-of-state retailers, and narrowing the tax exaction for oil companies. The Senate Republicans take a different approach and propose a new statewide property tax, while reducing local school district levies to offset the costs to local taxpayers.
  • The two budgets invest roughly the same amount of state money in basic education, $1.8 billion. The Senate allocates about $550 million more than the House in 2019-21 ($5.78 billion in the Senate budget compared to $5.23 billion in the House budget). However, the “net new funding” for education in the GOP plan would be about $871 million in the next two years after factoring in how the Republican proposal would phase out local school district levies (According to the Office of Program Research).
  • The House budget raises nearly twice as much in new revenue-$3 billion compared to $1.5 billion in the Senate budget.
  • The House budget funds major policy additions that the Senate budget does not, the biggest of which include $682 million for the governor-negotiated collective bargaining agreements (the Senate instead opted for $500 raises each year, for a total of $187 million) and $349 million for additional cost-of-living adjustments for teachers (I-732).
  • Both budgets take Initiative 1351 off the table (the 2014 measure approved by voters to reduce class size). The Senate budget repeals it. The House budget suspends it for an additional two years (it’s already suspended through the 2017-19 biennium).
  • Overall, the House budget allocates $1.8 billion more for all spending for the 2017-19 biennium – $44.9 billion compared to $43.3 billion included in the Senate budget. This is an increase of 17 percent (House budget) and 12 percent (Senate budget) above spending in the current biennium.

Items of Interest

  • OSPI/SBE Governance:  HB 1886 Passed the Senate this week with a striking amendment that simply directs OSPI and SBE to work together to report back to the legislature the appropriate roles of both OSPI as well as the SBE.
  • Children’s Mental Health Workgroup: HB 1713 just needs one more vote in the Senate before it heads to the Governor’s desk.  This is Rep. Senn’s bill to implement the recommendations of the Children’s Mental Health Workgroup. The bill requires the Health Care Authority to coordinate mental health resources for Medicaid-eligible children and requires health plans to cover annual depression screenings for children aged 12-18 and mothers of children aged birth to six months; requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to fund two Educational Service Districts to pilot a lead staff person for mental health and substance use disorder services; requires Washington State University to establish one additional 24- month residency position specializing in child and adolescent psychology; and requires behavioral health organizations to reimburse providers for the use of telemedicine to deliver medically necessary services to Medicaid clients.
  • Regarding the PESB HB 1341 : Moving forward in the Senate and waiting to be scheduled for a vote on the floor of the Senate. The bill prohibits the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) from requiring professional certification for school administrators. Requires the PESB to adopt new rules for professional certification for teachers that meet specified requirements, by September 1, 2017. Bases eligibility for the professional teacher certificate on professional developments credits, rather than on a uniform and externally administered professional-level certification assessment.
  • Capital Budget:  Both Capital budgets have been released, SHB 1075 and SSB 5086, WASA summary of budgets:

    The majority of the K–12 portion of the Senate budget, totaling $1.09 billion, would fund the School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP). Resources provided would be expected to “fully fund” anticipated requests for K–12 construction in the biennium; however, because construction formulas remain unchanged, the funding provided would continue to fall well-short of adequately funding school districts’ actual costs, and also fail to adequately address current educational standards and space needs. SCAP would receive $965.4 million, funded with $779.1 million in bonds and $186.3 million from the Common School Construction Account. The remaining funding would be allocated as described below. Additional details, including a summary, a statewide project list and the actual budget and bond bills, are available on the Washington State Fiscal Information website.

    The House’s budget would spend a total of $4.15 billion, which is comprised of $2.46 billion of bonds and $1.68 billion from other funds, along with $16.8 million from existing bond authority. Education (both K–12 and Higher Education combined) would receive $1.9 billion of the overall appropriations. Similar to the Senate’s budget, there is limited remaining bond capacity; however, due to the way the House structures their budget, they are able to secure $105 million for next year’s Supplemental Capital Budget. The majority of the K–12 portion of the budget, totaling $1.1 billion, would fund the School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP). SCAP would receive $1.033 billion, funded with $851.2 million in bonds and $179 million from the Common School Construction Account. The funding provided would be expected to “fully fund” anticipated requests for K–12 construction in the biennium. Construction formulas in the House budget remain inadequate; however, the House funding for SCAP would raise the Student Space Allocation (square foot per student) for each funded elementary school (K–6) from 90 square feet per student to 110 square feet per student. While the House provides at least a partial enhancement in construction formulas, the House fails to provide additional funding to continue the K–3 Class Size Reduction Grant Program.