Friday, January 24, 2014

Some interesting bill proposals . . .

If you are a teacher you will want to read this post that might even get you to consider contacting your legislators.  In this Crosscut post I learned that yesterday Democrats introduced two bills in the House that have impact on teacher salary.  One of the bills is consistent with the Governor's proposal to restore the voter approved cost-of-living increases.  The second bill would increase the minimum salary for any teacher from a starting salary of about $34,000 to about $52,000.  I do not believe that this new starting salary will have an impact on other cells in the schedule.

The language in Reykdal's bill suggests that a compensation task force's analysis showed that Washington's teachers earn roughly $15,000 less than comparable jobs in the non-education world. His bill raises the state allocation for a rookie teacher by about $18,000, but any additional pay would still be up to each district's school board and union.

In addition to these two bills, there was a third bill introduced in the House requiring a minimum wage of $15 an hour for non-teaching school employees.  So, there is something in proposed House legislation for many school employees.  We know, however, that it takes three in Olympia to enact these proposed bills and based on the Republican response in the Senate thus far it is far from having the votes necessary for approval.

When asked, Republican House and Senate leaders would not say whether they would support oppose cost-of-living increases for teachers, a proposal that has been in play for a couple weeks. However, those leaders appeared very cool to the idea of tackling cost-of-living increases this session. Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, said the overall school funding system must be reformed to trim the share that local school districts bear.  Dammeier and Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond and chairman of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, said these education funding issues are too complex to resolve in the current 60-day session.

What may be even more concerning for school systems is found in these comments from the Crosscut post.  If there were no Supplemental Budget to emerge in this session we would operate next year under the provisions in last year's biennial budget.  This would place the legislature and the State Supreme Court on a collision court as the Court has made clear that they expect an increase in this short session.

Also, Hill said there is a possibility that the Senate will offer no supplemental 2014-2015 budget this session, which could have major implications for Inslee's $200 million education proposal.  Hill said any Republican decision on a supplemental budget will probably be made in a couple weeks.

It could be posturing or it could be a continuation of what we have come to expect from Olympia.

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