Dear friends and neighbors,

This week the House passed legislation that would protect local school levy dollars for one more year while the Legislature continues to works on a school funding overhaul. It was the first bill passed by the House this year and it should be the first bill the Senate passes too.

During the recession, lawmakers temporarily hiked the amount of money schools could raise through property taxes so that school districts could survive statewide cuts in school spending. This increase is set to expire at the end of August 2017, posing a serious problem for school districts that rely on local levies. The schools in our community stand to lose more than $41 million.

Essentially, extending this deadline out another year is an insurance policy for school districts so they can budget for the coming school year with some certainty. Without it, schools across the state could lose upwards of $350 million. This would mean layoff notices for teachers and services cut for students, including kids with special needs. Getting this done now should be the Legislature’s number-one priority.

Unfortunately, the Senate seems to be closed for business. We are almost four weeks into session and Republican leadership has yet to bring forward a single bill for a vote. Adding to this standstill, one of their members resigned abruptly yesterday to take a job with the Trump administration. As a result, the Senate is temporarily split with Republicans and Democrats having 24 members each.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We can pass this together, and should, in the interest of students in schools across the state.

Best regards,