Final budget better for classified employees

House democrats just released their budget, the final of the three budgets, that is quite a bit different from the Senate proposal released last week.  Representative Ormsby, chair of the Appropriations committee, characterized the differences between the House and Senate budgets like the differences between apples and zucchinis.  Except for the lack of additional funding for K 12 health insurance or classified employee staffing, it was good on all other measures.

Major Issues:

— Higher Education Contracts and Health Care Agreement – Fully funded

— K 12 Classified Employee Salary Increase – 19.9% effective 9-1-17, 17% effective 9-1-18 (this includes the I 732 salary increases of 2.3% effective 9-1-17, and 2.7% effective 9-1-18.)

— Learning Days (something new) – One funded day in 2017-18, Two days in 2018-19, Four days in 2019-20, 6 Days in 2020-21

— Higher Education Tuition Freeze and revenue backfill – $56 million

— K 12 Insurance – frozen at current rate, $780

— No change to basic education classified employee staffing funded by local levies (5,000 FTEs) 

— House’s paraeducator bill fully funded.

$1.7 billion of the K 12 compensation increases, inclusive of the learning days and I 732 salary increase, are in jeopardy if the House does not pass nearly $3 billion in new tax sources.

As more details emerge, I will update this entry.

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1 minute on Senate Budget

With over 100 people wanting to testify, everyone was limited to 1 minute of testimony  (I think I did it in 45 seconds)…
This is what I said:
We like:
  1. Funding paraeducator bill
  2. Pension contributions including the $700 million from rainy day fund
  3. Funding the union coalition health care agreement
  4. Levy equity proposal
  5. State funding for 5,000 locally funded basic education classified employee FTE staff 
  6. State funding for the portion of basic education classified employee salaries that are locally funded
We urge them to consider or reconsider:
  1. Fully funding the PSE higher education contracts
  2. Seattle CPI as future inflation index starting in September 2018
  3. Funding Insurance Inflation with separate index or better yet…move classified employees into PEBB.
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House hears comprehensive paraeducator development bill

Yesterday, the House Education committee heard SB 5070, PSE’s paraeducator bill.  After hearing from bill sponsor, Senator Ann Rivers, supporters and opponents continued the debate that has been going on this session (as well as the last two sessions).  Arguments from both haven’t changed.  Supporters like Cassandra Sage from the Washington State PTA and Arzu Forough from the Washington Autism Advocacy Association explained how paraeducators who provide daily instruction needed state standards and training because of the critical role they play helping students succeed, especially students who need additional assistance to succeed in school and life.

Opponents continued to argue of their fears that paraeducators would not be able to pay for training and were likely to be fired.

I responded by saying if anyone would be fired it would be me for setting paraeducators up for failure.  Instead, I explained that if the training was too expensive or took too much time, we would gladly extend the three year timeline just like the legislature is doing with an 18 month extension for deaf and hard of hearing interpreters  in SB 5142, which is passing easily this session.


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House to hear paraeducator bill again

Next Monday, at 1:30, the House Education committee will be hearing SB 5070, PSE’s paraeducator bill.  This gives us another opportunity to convince the House to support the comprehensive paraeducator development program in 5070: mandatory standards, training to meet the standards, a career ladder that includes an advanced paraeducator position, improved pathway for paraeducators who want to become teachers, and training for teachers and principals who supervise paraeducators.

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Paraeducator bill needs your voice of support

Whew! What an eye-opening adventure and learning experience my Legislative Internship has been so far. Thankfully, I have Doug’s wisdom and Ehren’s personal connections to guide and lead me to some pretty surprising experiences, one of those being a personal, 1:1, after-hours sit-down with one of our biggest champions, Senator Ann Rivers my first day here.

As Doug blogged last week, the Para Educator Bill (SB5070) passed 37-12 after a bewildering and mind-boggling series of events.  However, this doesn’t mean we’ve hit a homerun yet and there still is lots of hard work to do to counteract very strong opposition by some of our lobbying friends to ensure its passage.

How do we do this you ask? Well, one of my biggest takeaways yesterday was that trust and money + highly involved membership often times far outstrips long and hard work at developing relationships.  However, the little guys can overtake the big guys if they bank on trusting relationships and step up and get their voices heard.

This is where Senator Rivers and meeting with her comes into play. She is our champion, we have a STRONG relationship of TRUST with her and she is fiercely passionate about seeing our Para Educators have the opportunities to develop professionally to best assist our students and teachers. She needs our help NOW to get the message through to our Legislators that this bill is vitally important to us and for our schools and we, PSE, support its passage. We, as PSE members in solidarity, can help her by making our voices heard.  My PSE Brothers and Sisters, I humbly ask that you contact your Legislators NOW by calling (Leg Hotline 800-562-6000)or email them to ask for their support of SB 5070. We may be the “little guy” on the field but if we come together – our voices can be incredibly loud and mighty.

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Paraeducators continue to enjoy strong Senate support

In a strong bi-partisan vote, the Senate approved a comprehensive paraeducator development program.  SB 5070 passed on a 37-12 vote and will require standards, professional development, a career ladder, an easier path to teacher certification, and, training for teachers who supervise paraeducators.

What’s next? It goes to the House for consideration.  And not to confuse you too much but the Senate will now consider the watered down House version – HB 1115.  We are encouraging the Senate to amend 1115 to look like 5070; and in the House we are encouraging them to approve 5070 without amendments.

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Intern experiences ups and downs of legislative process

You’re at the big game. Your team is looking solid. Barring any mistakes they stand a good chance of pulling it off. All of a sudden you see the other team set up a play that sets your team back on its heels, the momentum shifts and BAM! it’s over.

That is a bit how today felt. Doug, Ehren, and I spent our entire day meeting with legislators, keeping the interest of PSE members at the forefront of their minds and working to make sure Paraeducators get the training and recognition they deserve. We had received word that the Senate’s version of the paraeducator bill (SB5070) would be coming up for a vote. Doug and I settled into the gallery to watch how the vote unfolded when there was a ruckus on the floor, adjournment was called, and BAM! they were done for the day. Talk about whiplash.


Wednesday is the cutoff for bills to make it through to the next step. Missing the cutoff is not necessarily a death sentence for a bill but it does put it on very tenuous footing. Given that the prime sponsor is Republican Senator Ann Rivers, and the Republicans control the Senate, there is still a good chance there will be a vote on this bill. We will be watching very closely over the next couple of days.

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House approves weakened paraeducator bill

In a vote of 93-5, the House approved HB 1115, PSE’s paraeducator bill.  Before doing so, they added another amendment to give districts more flexibility when they will provide the required training to paraeducators.  Paraeducators hired on or before September 1 must be trained by September 30.  For paraeducators hired after September 1 in a district that has more than 10,000 students, the district must train the paraeducator within 4 months.  School districts with fewer than 10,000 students would have until the next September 1 to train paraeducators hired after September 1.

The bill now heads to the Senate for it’s consideration.

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Robust paraeducator bill heading to Senate floor

The Senate Ways and Means committee just approved SB 5070, PSE’s bill to implement statewide paraeducator standards, professional development and career ladder.  With their action, it looks like the House and Senate will be considering paraeducator bills next week; the House will be considering the weaker version, the Senate the robust version.

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Paraeducators part of school facilities shortage solution

In yesterday’s debate of House democrats McCleary solution bill, HB 1843, Republican Matt Mannweller proposed an amendment to address K 3 class size.  His amendment would allow school districts who receive funds to reduce K 3 class-size may use that funding to hire other “school-based personnel who provide direct services to students” if they don’t have classrooms for teachers.   I was surprised when a democratic speaker said they would support the amendment and one reason why is because it would allow hiring paraeducators when classrooms were not available.  The amendment passed unanimously.

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