Budget negotiators announced their final agreement last night, the day before the end of the session. Most of the major differences between the House and Senate budgets were ironed out previously so this final deal didn’t change any major issues. PSE had one additional measure we wanted the legislature to fund: $250,000 to develop paraeducator training modules. Good news is that the budget included that funding.
K 12 salary allocations will be fully funded in the 2018-19 school year at a cost of $776 million. The classified employee salary allocation will increase from $34,180 to $46,784.33 starting September 1, 2018. Normally, when there is an allocation increase, we get the same percentage increase to negotiate with our school districts. However, this 37% allocation increase does not mean we will get that full increase. In another bill, SB 6362, which hasn’t been voted on yet but must be voted upon before the end of the session, the legislature limits how much we can negotiate of the 37% increase. More on that after we see what the bill looks like.
Other details that didn’t change but are important to note:
On a 50-46 party line vote, the House finally approved its 2018 supplemental operating budget last Monday. Nothing changed from my previous blog entry other than they used a different number for the bill (instead of HB 2299 they are now using SB 6032).
Now that the Budget negotiators are meeting to fine tune the 2018 supplemental budget, the House Appropriations committee approved SB 6362 on a party line vote of 18-15. Since this bill covers an issue near and dear to every classified employee, their 2018-19 school year salary increase, this is where things stand at this point. Keep in mind that it still has to be approved by the House and then has to be approved again by the Senate.
What can you negotiate for the 2018-19 salary increase:
1…minimum salary increase of 3%.
2….maximum salary increase dependent upon each school districts average total classified staff salary. If your district average is less than the amount the school district receives from the state, we can negotiate whatever increase is necessary to raise your school districts average salary to the amount they receive from the state’s allocation for your school district (including the regionalization factor). The average allocation from the state is $46,784.33.
3…Step increases and increased time as a result of enrollment increases or changes to the state’s prototypical school formula are allowed as an addition to the calculation above.
Though we are near the end of the process, there may be last minute changes that may change the calculation process.
After wading through numerous amendments last night, the House came close but didn’t vote on a final budget. However, the most significant amendment approved (because it cost nearly $1 billion) was moving the K 12 salary allocation forward by one year (instead of funding the allocation over the next two school years, the entire allocation will be in one school year). With that decision, the House is now in agreement with the Senate (and the Washington Supreme Court) that the salary allocation will begin September 1, 2018.
Once they vote on Monday, the House and Senate budget negotiators will work over the remaining days of the session to iron out their differences (one remaining difference important to us is PSE’s budget proviso for $250,000 for paraeducator training modules that is in the Senate budget but not the House budget).
On a narrow 25-23 vote, the Senate approved its Supplemental Operating Budget yesterday. Though there were a couple of amendments approved, none of them changed issues of interest to PSE. They fully funded the increased salary allocation starting September 1, 2018, provided an additional $20 million to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board), and funded $250,000 for development of paraeducator training modules.
Once the House has completed its budget, the House and Senate budget negotiators will iron out the differences in their budgets.
In a 400 page document (that is the typical size of a budget) there are always small details to note after the big issues are covered. Here are three small but important details…
The House budget released yesterday met only one of our 3 goals for this session. What they got right was fully funding SEBB implementation by adding $20 million for the HCA (Health Care Authority). This is critical to getting the SEBB airplane off the runway in time for its January 1, 2020, start date. The good news is that the House, Senate, and Governor Inslee have all released budgets supporting full funding of SEBB implementation.
I fully expected the House to follow the Senate’s lead by meeting demands of the Washington State Supreme Court to move classified employee salary allocation increases forward one year (effective September 1, 2018). Instead, the House ignored the Court and left in place the salary allocation increases over the next two years rather than the one year required by the Supreme Court.
One additional PSE measure they missed out on was funding for development of special education and TBIP (Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program) training modules for paraeducators. Fortunately for us, the issue is not dead because the Senate included it in their budget.
A confusing aspect of their budget was their proposal to add a .5 FTE family involvement coordinator to every elementary school at a cost of $28 million (interesting to note that this is scheduled to increase to 1 FTE in the 2020-21 school year). This position is a classified employee position but the budget puts them in the certificated employee funding allocation. This distinction becomes more important when you take into account another bill, HB 1618, which requires that this funding must be used to hire family involvement coordinators (in other words it can’t be used for any other purpose).
Looking closer at the Senate budget proposal, I found a couple of small items worth noting. First, they proposed raising insurance funding starting September 1, 2018, by $5.18 per month from $840 to $845.18. As a result of this change the retiree carve out will increase ninety cents from $68.67 to $69. 57. Finally, the September 1, 2018, minimum salary increase will be 2.3% (as a reminder, the maximum increase is still under debate).
Senate Ways and Means chair, Senator Christine Rolfes, just introduced her supplemental operating budget, SB 6032. In it she funded the one year earlier salary increase for K 12 as required by the Washington State Supreme Court, development of paraeducator training modules, and, fully funds the continued implementation of SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board).
As explained in an earlier entry, the Senate funds a significant increase in salary allocation (average 36.5% increase) to each school district for classified employees starting September 1, 2018. As explained in that entry, we are also limited in how much of that salary allocation increase we have access to in our 2018 negotiations.
On another subject, we asked for $500,000 for development of special education and ELL (English language learners) training modules but we got $250,000. This is a good start but we may need to come back next year for an enhancement to finish the job.
Finally, the Senate added an additional $20 million to the $8 million previously provided to the Health Care Authority (HCA) to implement SEBB.
The Senate agreed with the Supreme Court’s demand that the legislature move funding for K 12 salaries one year earlier by approving SB 6362 last night. It now heads to the House after receiving a narrow 25-22 vote.
Since salary and salary increases is one of the most important issues to any classified employee, please note that my description below about the impact of 6362 is not final and may undergo changes when it is considered by the House. Here is what the impact of 6362 would have on salaries:
…the salary allocation to school districts would rise to $46,912 starting September 1, 2018. Since the current salary allocation for nearly all school districts is $34,180, this would amount to a 37.2% increase in State funding for salaries. Before you get too excited about that, please note that the legislature has also limited what we can negotiate for salary increases next year.
The minimum salary increase will be based upon the consumer price index (the current estimate is 2.4%) as it has been for the last several years. The maximum will depend upon each school district’s average total classified staff salary, step increases and staffing increases. We will be able to negotiate:
… Annual experience and education salary step increases according to the salary schedule specified in the agreement.
…Salary changes for staffing increases due to enrollment growth.
…The average total classified staff salary for the district may be increased up to the state salary allocation for the district (including the regionalization factor).
This complicated formula is only for the 2018-19 school year. Though this is going to be very difficult to calculate, it will be worth the time and effort if it gives us the ability to negotiate a higher salary increase for classified employees we represent.