Budget and Taxes

Budget passes and session ends

As normal, once the Operating Budget was approved, the legislature concluded the session.  Though a fix to school levies was also necessary to get out, the $52.4 billion operating budget is the final step.  With the exception of paraeducator training only coming in at two days rather than the four we wanted, it was a tremendous session for PSE members.  Here are the most significant gains this legislative session:

  • SEBB (School Employees Benefits Board) agreement fully funded,
  • WWU (Western Washington University) and CWU (Central Washington University) contracts fully funded,
  • PEBB (Public Employees Benefits Board) agreement fully funded,
  • Union membership laws that responded to Janus by updating laws to reflect among other things, new technology,
  • SERS (School Employees Retirement System) / PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) new employee default option changed to Plan 2,
  • Two days of paid paraeducator training.
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Final budget funds nearly all PSE priorities

House and Senate budget negotiators just released the final budget.  This budget document may be too dense and confusing so if you want more detail, go here (start with page 177).  Sorry but they have not yet published a good short summary of the budget.  When they do, I will include it…here is a summary.

With only one hiccup, PSE’s priorities were fully funded!

🙂 Central and Western Washington University agreements funded.

🙂 PEBB insurance agreement funded.

🙂 SEBB insurance agreement funded.

🙁 Two days per year of paraeducator training – this is the one shortcoming of the budget.  PSE wanted four days per year.

Other important notes:

….2% salary increase effective 9-1-19

….2.1% salary increase effective 9-1-20

 

 

 

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Budget deal is announced – session expected to end on April 28

House and Senate budget negotiators just announced they reached an agreement.  Their agreement will be released on Saturday with an expectation they will finish on time on Sunday!  It’s going to be a busy weekend. Here’s their press release:

 Rolfes, Ormsby announce tentative deal on 2019-21 operating budget

OLYMPIA — Sen. Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island), chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, and Rep. Timm Ormsby (D-Spokane), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following joint statement announcing a tentative agreement on the 2019-21 Operating Budget:
“We have reached a tentative budget agreement between the two chambers and look forward to finishing our work on a final budget by the end of the legislative session on Sunday. We will continue to work with our fiscal teams in the Legislature to complete final details on a responsible budget that puts people first and meets the pressing needs of our state.”

Once details are finalized, Senate and House budget leaders anticipate releasing the final budget on Saturday.

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How much will special education funding go up?

Now that all three budgets are out, it’s good to compare how the three budgets fund special education.  Though final formulas and final amounts have not been agreed to, here is the increase in special education funded in each of the budgets for the 2019-21 time period:

1st Budget – Governor Inslee – $146 million

2nd Budget – House – $69 million

3rd Budget – Senate – $156 million

When they reach agreement, they will update the special education formula in this bill: SB 5091.

 

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Recap, Bills, Next Week

Recap

With the release, amendment, and final debates on Thursday, the Senate budget has been approved.  With the approval, House and Senate budget negotiators go behind closed doors to iron out the differences between the budgets. Attempts to undermine SEBB failed (what a relief) – as a result SEBB was fully funded, PSE higher education contracts at Western and Central Washington Universities were funded, the PEBB coalition agreement on insurance funding for calendar years 2020 and 2021 were funded, and four days per year of paraeducator training were funded.  Now we have to encourage Senate negotiators to hold their position in final negotiations.

Bills

With only 23 days left of the session and only a couple more days of hearings, we are unlikely to get many more new bills introduced.  Here is the current list of K 12 and Higher Education bills.

Next Week

Monday and Tuesday are the last committee hearings of the session (the only additional hearings will be when bills to implement the budget are heard  at the end of session).  Starting on Wednesday, legislators will spend the remaining days of the session on the floor voting on the bills that are still alive.

 

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Senate budget meets PSE priorities

What a great sight to see…the just released Senate budget meets all of PSE’s priorities.  Whether it is fully funding our WWU (Western Washington University) and CWU (Central Washington University) contracts, the PEBB (Public Employees Benefits Board) coalition insurance agreement, the SEBB (School Employees Benefits Board) coalition insurance agreement, and, fully funding four days of paraeducator training, this budget was as good as it gets.

Two other features of the budget important to PSE were:

…increasing special education funding by $156 million;

…funding a 2% and 2.1% increase over the next two years.

If you are a glutton for even more details about the budgets, go here.

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Recap, bills, next week

Recap

This last week’s highlight was the House budget release, debate on the budget, and votes on the budget and amendments to it.  As with most budgets, there was good (SEBB funding) and bad (reduced paraeducator training funding) in the budget.

Bills

The only new bills introduced now are those to implement the budget.  One in particular, HB 2140, implements reduced funding for paraeducator training (reduced from four to two days).  Here’s the Higher Ed and K 12 bill reports.

Next Week

Senate budget testimony, debates, and votes will dominate next week.  Additionally, committees will pushing final bills through by Wednesday, April 3.

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House budget proposal released

Yesterday, the House released their 2019-21 operating budget.  On our priority issues, it only fails in one area: paraeducator training.  First the good news:

—It funds our WWU (Western Washington University) and CWU (Central Washington University) contracts;

—It funds the PEBB insurance coalition agreement;

—It funds the SEBB insurance coalition agreement;

—It funds a 2% and 2.1% salary increase for the next two school years.

The disappointing news is that instead of funding four days per year of paraeducator training, they funded two days.  We have put together a variety of lobbying efforts (including code blue members yesterday were in town) to convince House members that the bill we passed in 2017 that required four days per year of funding should be honored.

On another note, PSE strongly supports the new revenue sources that will be necessary to fund our contracts and insurance agreements.

 

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Levy changes getting attention

As expected, there is general agreement (at least among Democrats) that the McCleary levy changes from last year are harming school districts ability to provide basic education to their students.  One solution getting a great deal of early attention is SB 5313, sponsored by Senator Wellman (Bellevue).  It would:

Ÿ…Allow a school district to choose between a levy lid of either 20 percent of its levy base or $3,500 per pupil.

…Provide local effort assistance (LEA) to school districts operating under the 20 percent levy lid model and have a 10 percent levy rate that exceeds the statewide average 10 percent levy rate.

…Should a school district’s LEA decrease from 2019 to 2020, the school district must receive the 2019 LEA amount.

The bill will be heard at next week’s Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing.

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Special education funding likely to go up this year

It’s great to see that there is significant momentum this session for additional special education funding.  It is too early to tell how much or which formulas will change but there will be a positive change.  Here are the special education bills under consideration (an * means the bill is alive):

HB 1093* / SB 5312 – several formula changes intended to increase funding

HB 1910 – several formula and program changes intended to increase funding

SB 5091* – removes federal funding from safety net formula and allows federal funds to train paraeducators

SB 5262 – program changes to increase effectiveness

SB 5532* – changes to program and increasing parent participation

SB 5736* –  increases special education excess cost multiplier

 

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