Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Moving in wrong direction . . .
In this Crosscut post we see the State House Education budget going the wrong way before negotiations with the Senate and Governor begin.  Dropping four components of their revenue plan has resulted in a reduction in the House education budget from $1.34 billion to $1.16 billion.  This is in contrast to the Senate budget of about $1 billion.  My sense is that this may also be the result of some back door conversations that have made it clear that the House tax plan is dead on arrival and keeping it will not lead to agreement on a budget.

In the article Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee said that no decisions have been made yet on what would be trimmed out of the House's package to start complying with a Washington Supreme Court order.  Where they make these cuts could have a negative impact on state revenue to our system.  In this April 11th post I shared the three budgets and the importance of flexibility.  If they choose to make the cuts in transportation funding or MSOC (Maintenance, Supplies and Operating Costs) and maintain all day Kindergarten and class size reductions it will result in less flexibility for us.  We want them to implement recommendations from the Joint Task Force on Education Spending that made transportation and MSOC the priority for new revenue.

The article also referenced a vote today in the Senate that would permanently eliminate cost of living wages under I-732 and implement a controversial shift of funds.

In a related matter, the Senate passed a complicated education bill 25-23 Tuesday that would permanently eliminate a frequently suspended cost-of-living raise for teachers under Initiative 732, plus shift $166 million from the "common schools fund" to help pay for the Senate's $1 billion education fix-it plan. Democrats in both chambers argue that money is constitutionally limited to construction, and the shift is unconstitutional. Republicans say the shift is constitutional. One clause appears to envision shifts when construction needs are met. The Washington Attorney General's office has not issued an opinion this matter, and says it wouldn't normally.

This action brings additional complexity and opposing views to an already difficult task to craft a state budget that can be approved by all three parties.  Where is the leverage that will lead to agreement?  How will education in the state and in our school system be impacted as this scenario is played out behind closed doors?  I encourage you to let your legislators know your feelings as they seek to find resolution.

No comments: