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Reports from Policy Analysts

Funding Woes

Submitted On: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Analyst: Ward, Barbara/Washington State Univ Tri-Cities

Washington legislators are meeting in a special session to figure out a way to respond to the insistence of the state’s high court demanding that the state must pay a fair share of the costs for teacher salaries. As matters stand now, school districts are responsible for most of those salaries. The court has indicated that it will strongly consider shutting down schools if the state doesn’t live up to its fiscal responsibilities. The raises for teachers will necessitate billions of dollars. As the result of the court ruling in the earlier McCleary v. State of Washington (2012) case, the legislature voted to expand all-day kindergarten and preschool but has struggled to come up with a plan to pay for the teacher salaries that change will make necessary. Not surprisingly, teacher salaries are the most costly aspect of the expansion.

Since Washington State has no income tax, revenue for these innovations must be found elsewhere. At this time, neither political party can agree on how to do so. Democrats support a capital-gains tax while Republicans support an increased property tax. The state’s governor, Jay Inslee, supports other taxes but suggests that both sides work out a compromise. Education supporters in the state are concerned that a compromise will not provide enough monies to meet the demands of the court, thus leaving many school-age children behind.

Barbara Ward

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