OLYMPIA – Sen. Mark Mullet, D- Issaquah, today introduced legislation that offers a moderate approach to fully funding our schools and resolving the state’s McCleary lawsuit.
“We’ve seen the Republican proposal and the Democratic proposal; this is the moderate proposal,” said Mullet. “At the start of negotiations, it’s important to get all ideas on the table. I’m confident that my proposal will encourage other moderates in the Legislature to join the discussion about how we go about funding our K-12 system.”
Senate Bill 5825 locks in place local levies at their current rates for every school district. This addresses the Supreme Court’s concern that locals levies are unreliable because they have to be voted on every four years.
“Every last one of us wants to solve the issue of fully and fairly funding K-12 education,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D- Lake Stevens, who is co-sponsoring the bill. “The plan we put forward today is simply another path toward accomplishing that goal. We’ve put out a plan that hopefully leads us to a solution.”
“We already know that any solution the Legislature comes to in addressing the McCleary decision will be a product of compromise from both houses and both parties,” said Sen. Dean Takko, D- Longview, another co-sponsor of SB 5825. “This bill puts a nice, moderate approach on the table right now that will help students in every corner of the state.”
Additionally, the bill doubles the amount of funds the state provides to property poor districts, allowing them to adequately compensate teachers – a major sticking point in the McCleary ruling. This is achieved by increasing state levy equalization assistance from $765 million to $1.5 billion per budget cycle.
“This plan is a win-win for school districts in both property rich and property poor districts,” said Mullet. “School districts in wealthier areas will gain additional flexibility to raise money for their local schools with the assurance that their tax dollars stay local. For rural areas, state support will be doubled so they are better able to provide a high-quality learning environment and offer competitive salaries to hire more teachers.”
Mullet added that he prefers his proposal to the Republican plan because schools get more money and it costs the state less.