Legislative leaders have just released their McCleary school funding solution. Amidst the many details of state property tax, increased salary allocations, changes to levy collections, the solution includes full implementation of a new insurance system for K 12; a system very similar to the insurance system provided state employees. A new board, the SEBB (school employees benefit board) will be appointed by the Governor by September 1, 2017. Starting January 1, 2020, all insurance plans, employee and employer insurance payments will be decided by the SEBB. As big as that is, the bigger issue is that basic education employees who work 630 hours or more per school year will receive full state funding for insurance. This has been a crusade by PSE (and me) for the 21 years I have been lobbying for PSE. To say I am humbled and proud is an understatement!!
An additional sweetener to this insurance issue solution is that K 12 insurance funding will be the same as provided to state employees. Though I don’t have the final numbers (since they haven’t yet been published), I have been told that the full cost of implementing the half time or more for classified employees and applying the state employee funding amount to K 12 is $460 million. For classified employees who have been drowning in insurance premium costs or dropping out because they couldn’t afford to cover themselves (9,000 classified employees) or their dependents (39,000), there is a finally a glimmer of hope that someone finally listened to them!
There will be significant changes to how insurance will be negotiated (basically, there won’t be much local negotiation). A coalition of employee representatives will negotiate with the Governor what the state will fund for insurance benefits. Then the SEBB will use those funds to determine the insurance plans and premiums that will be paid by the employees and the employer.
Though there is a significant increase to state funding for our salaries, we will be limited how much we can negotiate starting in the 2018-19 school year. State funding will increase 37.4% (split equally over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years – 18.7% per year). However, starting in the 2018-19 school year, our salary increase will be limited to the consumer price index (2% is the current estimate) or as much of an increase necessary to raise district average basic education classified employees salaries to $39,975.50. Complicated but it is what it is. I looked but couldn’t find what the 2017-18 funded salary increase will be…maybe that will show up in the budget that is expected soon.
Starting in the 2020-21 school year, state funding for salary increases will be based upon the Washington State IPD (implicit price deflator) rather than the Seattle CPI (consumer price index).
Starting in the 2018-19 school year, the legislature will fund a “regionalization factor” to salaries. This factor will be added to the state allocation and is intended to offset higher cost areas and relieve the pressure on local levies. The factor shall be based upon the median single-family residential value of each school district and proximate school district median single-family residential value.
Property taxes, levies
There will be an increase to the state property tax to pay a significant part of the roughly $7.3 billion (over the next four years) increase in state funding for K 12. Local levies will be changing but I will have to spend more time figuring out what the impact will be.
As you can tell, these are the parts of McCleary which will have the biggest impact. There are other areas I will be focusing on in future blogs.