News Blog

Waiting for Governor Inslee to sign paraeducator bill

I expect Governor Inslee to sign ESHB 1115 sometime over the next two weeks.  If we are lucky, we will get 12-24 hours notification that he has decided to sign it.  Then we drop everything so we can attend the signing ceremony and thank him for his support.

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Governor Inslee approves extension of interpreter deadline

Governor Inslee has signed into law SB 5142, the bill to give deaf and hard of hearing paraeducator interpreters additional time to meet standards.  Dependent upon what stage the paraeducator is at, they will have an additional 12-18 months to meet the standards.  At the latest, a deaf and hard of hearing paraeducator interpreter would have until February 28, 2019, to meet the standards.

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Governor Inslee gets paraeducator bill

Yesterday, the House gave final approval, (94-1 vote – okay Representative Klippert you wanted to be different), to PSE’s paraeducator bill, ESHB 1115.  Governor Inslee will have a couple of weeks to determine if he will support the legislation.  I’m not expecting any surprises but will let you know if there are any concerns.

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K 12 compensation tied to McCleary

When the Supreme Court entered its last order, they made compensation a major issue that the legislature needed to address.  This wasn’t new to anyone since it has been clear for decades that local levies, not the State, have been paying for “competitive salaries”.  What “competitive” means is that the State provides school districts a “base salary” but school districts have to rely upon local levies to add additional compensation to make salaries “competitive”.

This is true for all three of the major classification of employees: teachers, principals, classified employees.  And the amount of money coming from local levies for “competitive” salaries is a very large number: $1.2 billion per year.  The classified employee share of the total amount is $244 million.  Because the Court wants the State to fully fund or have at least a plan to fund this by 2018, legislators (and Governor Inslee) have offered 3 different solutions.  Solutions form House Democrats and Governor Inslee are similar while the Senate is significantly different.

Governor Inslee

While there were significant salary increases for teachers and administrators, there were also significant increases for classified employees.

—- September 1, 2017…raise state funding for classified salaries (inclusive of the 2.4% Initiative 732 salary increase) from the current $33,412 to $39,457 (a 18.1% increase)

—- September 1, 2018…raise state funding for classified salaries (inclusive of the 2.8% Initiative 732 salary increase) from $39,457 to $52,908 (a 34% increase).

—- Professional development would be provided to paraeducators amounting to 20 hours in 2017 and 40 hours in 2018.

House Democrats

While there were significant salary increases for teachers and administrators, there were also significant increases for classified employees.

—- September 1, 2017…raise state funding for classified salaries (inclusive of the 2.3% Initiative 732 salary increase) from the current $33,412 to $40,060.66 (a 19.9% increase)

—- September 1, 2018…raise state funding for classified salaries (inclusive of the 2.7% Initiative 732 salary increase) from $40,060.66 to $46,888.93 (a 17% increase).

—- Professional development would be provided to all state funded FTEs amounting to 1 day 2017 and 2 days in 2018.

Senate Republicans

Along with many other changes to K 12 funding, the Senate only proposed a 2.3% Initiative 732 salary increase effective September 1, 2017.

Future salary increases would be governed by future local negotiations.  The State would provide school districts an annual increase (based upon the US IPD (implicit price deflator – usually 1-1.5% below the Seattle CPI (consumer price index).  This increase is then subject to negotiations to determine who gets how much of the increased funding.  And to make it more complicated, school districts cannot provide salary funding exceeding 80% of their State funding.  Not an attractive environment competing with teachers and others for smaller funding increases.

 

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State and higher education employee contracts

There are 27 contracts that unions have negotiated with their employers (including Governor Inslee).  Those contracts have to be approved (and funded) by the legislature before they can be implemented.  Governor Inslee’s budget funded them.  The House democrat’s budget funded them.  Senate republican’s budget only funded 2 of the contracts.  The remaining 25 contracts were not approved by Senate republicans instead they approved a $500 salary increase per year for each year of the budget.

Why is there a difference?  According to Senate budget chair John Braun, Senate republican’s chose to prioritize state funding so they could fully fund K 12 education.  Fully funding the contracts costs nearly $500 million.  The Senate budget proposal only costs $78 million.

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Budget breakdown continues

The stage is set but the actors are not playing their roles.  House democrats and Senate republicans have approved their separate budgets, now the only thing to do is negotiate the differences.  Normally, with 11 days left before the end of session, Budget negotiators meet and trade issues based upon the relative importance of the issue to their party.  This winnowing process results in a final budget.  That’s not happening this year because the Senate has refused to meet until after the House has approved the tax increases necessary to fund the House’s budget (roughly $3 billion in new taxes).  As of today, House democrats have refused to vote on the tax increases necessary to fund their budget.

So there is the first reason for the breakdown.  And if you think that is a big problem the next one is even bigger: the Budgets they have approved are as different as “apples to zucchinis”.  Normally, budgets are different, but the differences are so big it is difficult to imagine how they are going to cobble together an agreement.  The popular expectation here in Olympia is that the only thing that is going to force them to agreement is the June 30 deadline (after that date, the government doesn’t have any money to operate).

Over the next several blog entries, I am going to break apart the major issues, one issue at a time, that are the heart of the “apples to zucchini” budgets.

 

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Another hurdle passed as paraeducator bill moves on

After a variety of hiccups, the Senate unanimously approved the agreed to paraeducator bill after also approving this amendment.  After a false start yesterday, the Senate got right down to business today by approving the bill as the first bill of the day.  Senators Rivers, Rolfes, and Zeiger spoke to the value of paraeducators in the classroom.  All of them credited the late Senator Andy Hill for his work promoting the value of paraeducators and this bill.

Though he was not recognized on the Senate floor, the key player helping us reach the agreement was our champion in the House for the last four years, Representative Steve Bergquist!

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Another change to paraeducator bill

Yesterday, before voting the paraeducator bill out of the Appropriations committee, legislators approved an amendment to delay the implementation date of the minimum employment requirements one year.  Paraeducators will have to meet the requirements by September 1, 2018, rather than September 1, 2017.

Hopefully this will be the last amendment to the bill but there are a couple more steps to go through so we shall see.

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Revenue to fund education

Yesterday, the House Finance committee took several hours of testimony on HB 2186, the bill to authorize new revenue sources to fund McCleary, K 12, and other priorities in the House’s recently approved budget.  It would authorize an additional $2.8 billion of new revenue sources in the 2017-19 budget which would grow to $4.8 billion in the 2019-21 budget.  The majority of these increases in 2017-19 would come from three sources: B&O tax ($1.2 billion),  capital gains ($715 million), and, real estate excise tax (REET) $435 million.  Here is a complete listing at this table.

Not surprising, there were many more supporters than opponents testifying at the hearing.  The committee approved the bill on party line vote this morning sending it to an uncertain future on the House floor.

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PSE Members Lobby for Higher Education

chamber1PSE members from all over the state met in Olympia yesterday to lobby for higher education. A very energetic group of members had great conversations with their respective legislators to advocate for the funding of PSE’s collective bargaining agreements at WWU, CWU and WSU.

Members made clear to representatives that the wage increases proposed in these contracts are vital to finally put higher education employees on a path to earning a more competitive, livable wage. PSE drove home the point that, with these wage increases, Universities will be better equipped to not only attract new employees in a competitive market, but to retain all of the talented employees who currently work there! Overall, the feedback from these legislators was largely positive and receptive.

Billig1While yesterday was a success by any measure, we all know and understand that our work is far from over! Make sure to contact your representatives and let them know how vital it is that these contracts be included in the final 2017-2019 budget! Here is the complete list of legislators. If you don’t know your legislative district, click here.

OrmsbyFinally, if you have not done so already, please join Zone 13’s Facebook page.

Zone 13 Director Angie Wedekind is always posting information relevant to higher education!

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