Budget and Taxes

Small updates on Senate budget proposal

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).

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Budget proposal funds PSE priorities

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.

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Senate moves salary allocations one year earlier

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.

 

 

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McCleary changes coming soon

It’s clear that there will be changes to the McCleary bill from 2017, ESHB 2242, approved this session.  The only question is how many will get through.  At Monday’s hearing of the Senate Education committee they heard four bills: SB 6362, 6397, 6394, 6483.  And this is just on the Senate side.  More are expected to be heard on the House side soon.

Of the bills, PSE testified in support of 6397 because it clearly described how to calculate average salaries (this will help us determine how much of a salary increase we can negotiate next year) and it came close to clearly moving forward the salary allocation one year as required by the Washington Supreme Court.  Both of these issues were our goals for this session.  I said “they came close” because the words in the bill don’t match their intentions.  That should be easy to fix in future versions of this bill.

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Capital Budget Finally Done

After failing to pass a Capital Budget last year in the 2017 legislative session for the first time, last night the legislature stayed up late last night and finally passed the Budget.  As a result, school and university building projects can restart again.  That takes care of one of our Capital Budget issues.  The next one, simple majority passage of bonds (bonds must pass in order for school districts to fund their share of construction costs), will be discussed next week when the Senate State Government committee considers Senator Mark Mullet’s bill to reduce the approval rate for bonds to 55% rather than 60%.

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Day 1 starts with hopes of early conclusion

With democratic control of the House and Senate, leaders of both chambers are expressing hopes that they will not only finish on time (March 8) but will finish early.  Since the last several years have seen one if not up to three extra special sessions, everyone hopes they are right.

Yesterday, I testified in support of Governor Inslee’s supplemental budget.  I supported his effort to comply with the Washington Supreme Court’s demand that the State start funding their substantial increase to basic education salaries starting September 1, 2018, not September 1, 2019.  Further, I highlighted his addition of $13 million to implement the new SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board) insurance plans for K 12.

Additionally, I highlighted two areas that PSE will be advocating for this legislative session:

—Add $500,000 each year of the two year budget to update general paraeducator training modules and develop special education and transitional bilingual paraeducator professional development training modules.

—Clarify what the legislature meant last year when they passed EHB 2242 with the direction that we can negotiate “district average salary for classified employees” up to the amount of the school district’s state allocation for those salaries.  How this is calculated is critical to determining how much we have available to negotiate “market based wages”.    For instance, will the average salary be calculated for all classified employees or just basic education employees?  If its all classified employee, in most circumstances, we should be able to negotiate higher salary increases.

 

 

 

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Governor Inslee Budget Fixes K12 Compensation Problem

Governor Inslee just released his supplemental budget requests.  Though there are a variety of K12 and higher education budget changes he recommends, the most significant was his proposal to move forward by one year the State’s funding for K 12 salaries; a direct response to the Washington State Supreme Court’s recent McCleary order.  The cost of this change ($759 million dollars) will be paid for by reducing the $1 billion rainy day fund (and possibly a carbon tax).  If the legislature goes along with Inslee’s proposal, the State will have completed all of the steps required by the Supreme Court to fully fund basic education.

Other significant changes he has proposed:

  1. $17.2 million for high school and beyond programs for 7th and 8th graders, including $3.8 million to hire more middle school counselors;
  2. $12.8 million to increase Opportunity Scholarships;
  3. $5.2 million retiree remittance adjustment ($68.67 increased to $69.57);
  4. K 12 2018-19 insurance funding increased from $840 per FTE to $845.18;
  5. $20 million increase to special education funding;
  6. Increase from $8 million to $21 million the funding necessary to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board).

What is the likely effect if the legislature increases funding for classified employee salaries in the 2018-19 school year instead of the 2019-20 school year?  The 36.5% increase (from $34,180 to $46,647) starting September 1, 2018, sounds great but remember this is an allocation increase that is limited by other laws (primarily EHB 2242 passed in the 2017 legislative session).  That law limited our access to the increased funding for classified employee salary allocations over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school year.  If the legislature agrees to raise the allocation as proposed by Governor Inslee, this law will also have to be changed in the 2018 legislative session.  PSE will be advocating to increase the allocation as proposed by the Governor and change the law to do no harm to classified employees ability to get reasonable cost of living adjustments and market based salaries.

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McCleary solution approved

Governor Inslee now gets his chance to approve the hard fought McCleary solution after the House and Senate easily approved HB 2242.  House vote: 67=26.  Senate vote: 32-17.

 

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Budget all done

In quick order the House and Senate have both approved the 2017-19 operating budget.  House vote: 70-23.  Senate vote: 39-10.  Governor Inslee is expected to sign the bill long before the deadline of midnight tonight.

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3rd special session starts

In 2 hours, Governor Inslee will start the 3rd special session.  With only 9 days left before the current budget expires (and therefore all funding for state funded programs), budget negotiators have as much pressure on them as possible to reach an agreement.  Strategically, they will need to announce the agreement by the 26th, no later than the 27th, in order to get everybody to town, brief them on the agreement and to get the staff to prepare the paperwork so they have all the information necessary for the final votes.  Will they make it in time?  My guess, and it is only a guess, is they won’t.

Will there be a government shutdown?  My guess, and it is only a guess, is there won’t be a government shutdown because they will pass a one or two month extension of current state funding.

Sitting on the sidelines impatiently watching this is the Supreme Court demanding that they reach a conclusion to fully fund K 12 education. Will they add another sanction to the $100,000 per day fine to get the legislators to take their order seriously?

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