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Catharine Blaine: 206-252-1920

Budget Shortfall – Levy Cliff and McCleary Update

Olympia Update:  McCleary and Levy Cliffs

The legislative session opened on Monday, January 9th and one of the hot topics of conversation continues to be how the state can fully fund education to comply with the McCleary decision.  (Don’t know about the McCleary Decision?  The Seattle Times gives the history here: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/how-we-got-here-key-events-of-mccleary-school-funding-decision/)

Over the past two biennial budgets, the legislature has restored an estimated $14 billion in education funding, however the state Supreme Court ruled at the end of last session that more must be done.  The question that still remains unanswered in Olympia is how much more money must be found for education before January 2018.

The “levy cliff” further complicates the situation as local levies now make up approximately 25% of many districts budgets and helps to support costs for teacher’s salaries, supplies and busing.  The state constitution requires that school districts have a reliable source of funding and the McCleary decision mandates that voter approved school levies are not reliable.

At the end of last session, the legislature decided to convene the Education Funding Task Force comprised of a bipartisan group of eight legislators to draft a plan for meeting the McCleary decision to fully fund K-12 basic education.  After working throughout the summer months, the committee hoped to release its plan during its December meeting; however, members announced the task force needs more time to come up with a plan.  It is presumed that the plan will be revealed the first week of session.

How does this impact Catharine Blaine?

That “levy cliff” refers to the fact that if the Legislature doesn’t act to remove it, school districts won’t be able to collect as much money as voters have approved through local levies.  Should Seattle Public Schools not be able to use levy funding, they are estimating a $74 million budget shortfall for the 2017-18 school year (which represents 10% of the districts operating budgets).

Once full funding is restored to the state budget, it is presumable that local levies will no longer be necessary.  But because it is not likely that the legislature will vote on education funding until the end of the legislative session, districts across the state are planning for the worst-case scenario.

What can you do? 

Call Our Legislators from the 36th District

Call and email the elected officials from our district and let them know that the time to fully funding public education is NOW — and request a levy cliff extension for the 2017-2018 school year, so that we can maintain the same level of education for our children.

Senator Reuven Carlyle: (206) 216-3184 / reuven.carlyle@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Noel Frame: (360) 786-7814 / noel.frame@leg.wa.gov

Rep. Gael Tarleton: (360) 786-7860 / gael.tarleton@leg.wa.gov

Come to the PTA Meeting – Tuesday, January 24th