Senate passes comprehensive education-funding plan

2017 legislative session • February 3, 2017 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Letter from Leadership 

The Current 2017-18

Dear Friend:  

It has been a week of mixed emotions. On Monday, we said goodbye to our Caucus Chair Shelly Short. She was selected by a group of county commissioners to replace Brian Dansel in the state Senate. We will miss Shelly's leadership, knowledge and friendship, but are comforted by the fact she will just be across the rotunda. 

Welcome Jacquelin Maycumber

Those same county commissioners selected Shelly's replacement on Wednesday. They chose Jacquelin Maycumber, who was sworn in a day later. Jacquelin was Shelly's legislative assistant, knows her district well and will make a great state representative. We are happy to welcome her to our team.

Leadership changes

We held a reorganizational meeting on Wednesday night to replace our Caucus Chair. Rep. Matt Shea, who was serving as one of our Assistant Floor Leaders, was chosen to be our new Caucus Chair. He will lead our caucus meetings and policy discussions during the legislative session.

Rep. Drew Stokesbary was then selected for the open Assistant Floor Leader position. As I highlighted in this news release, Drew is a natural fit for this position. He is an excellent communicator and will help us navigate policy debates this year.

Senate passes comprehensive education-funding plan

The Senate Republicans unveiled their One Washington Education Equality Act last week. The 121-page bill received a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday and passed off the Senate floor Wednesday night. You can learn more about this comprehensive, student-centered plan below.

Will House Democrats pass their tax increases?

The Democrats dropped their 35-page education-funding plan in each chamber on Monday. However, the legislation does not include the new revenue that would be needed to fund the policy. It is still not clear which taxes they would create or raise to pay for their increased spending. You can find the information they released on it here

We will be discussing this legislation in more detail as a caucus next week. Aside from the unanswered revenue questions, our greatest concerns at this point are that the plan is not comprehensive and does not include substantive reforms that would ensure better student outcomes. 

Our role moving forward

If we were in the majority, we would have a comprehensive bill to introduce. We have put a lot of time and thought into this issue since last summer. As the minority party, our role moving forward will be to refine our solutions, share thoughts on any plan that comes forward and facilitate discussions when necessary. Every step of the way we will be assessing what the impacts of proposals would be on our local school districts and taxpayers. 

In your service,

Rep. Dan Kristiansen
House Republican Leader
39th District
(360) 786-7967

Senate passes One Washington Education Equality Act

The Senate Republicans' One Washington Education Equality Act passed on a 25-24 vote Wednesday night. The plan was recently described by Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal as "very comprehensive." In a news conference, Sen. Joe Fain described the new funding approach as, "flat, fair and progressive."  

This plan would provide ample, dependable and equitable funding for our schools. It focuses on student outcomes, drives important reforms, demands accountability and promotes local control. 

No legislation of this size and scope is going to be perfect right away. There will need to be changes moving forward. This is what makes the legislative process so important and why all four caucuses and stakeholders need to be engaged.

Here are some basic facts about the plan:

  • Repeals the prototypical schools model.
  • Creates a statewide per-pupil funding system.
  • Establishes a $12,500 minimum per student funding amount.
  • Institutes a $1.80/$1,000 assessed value local effort levy (eliminates existing maintenance and operations levy, less than the current statewide average of $2.54/$1,000, the state would provide the rest of the money necessary to get to minimum).
  • Provides additional funding provided based on unique student needs (low-income families, special education, English language learners, homeless students, highly capable students, vocational education).
  • Focuses on quality teachers (removes state salary grid, provides districts flexibility to reward high-performing teachers, increases beginning teacher pay to $45,000, provides housing allowance for high cost-of-living areas).
  • Sets goals for students and school districts.  
  • Transforms failing schools.

House Democrats: “For decades, the state has underfunded education”

As we debate a new education funding plan for the future, it is important to remember the past -- including how we arrived at this problem. Democrats recently provided us some candid assessments. 

Newly elected chair of the Washington State Democratic Party Tina Podlodowski reminded everyone last Saturday that Democrats didn't fully fund education even when they had supermajorities in the Legislature. She's right.  

In a news release on January 23, House Democrats admitted: “For decades, the state has underfunded education.” True statement. 

This graph illustrates the Democrats' admissions and shows how non-education spending was prioritized over education spending for a 30-year period. Fortunately, we have reversed this trend the last four years. 

As this chart shows, since 1985 Democrats have controlled the state House for 29 years (including three years in a tie). In this same time period, Democrats controlled both chambers in the Legislature at the same time for 17 years. A Democrat has also been in the governor's mansion since 1984. 

Since 2000, Republicans have controlled the state Senate for seven years (including this year). As this chart reveals, K-12 education has increased dramatically when Republicans played a major role in writing the operating budget.

In 2012, the last year Democrats controlled the state House and state Senate, our state spent $6.7 billion on K-12 education – representing 43.5 percent of the near general fund spending. Today, after four years of the state Senate being controlled by Republicans, these numbers are $9.4 billion and 48 percent, respectively.

Rep. Bill Jenkin

Meet Rep. Bill Jenkin 

When Maureen Walsh decided to run for an open state Senate seat in the 16th District, it created an opening in the state House. Bill Jenkin of Prosser decided to run and won his election in November. 

Bill entered the Legislature with more than 30 years of experience as a small business owner. He has also been recognized for being a leader in his community.   

Bill was named Assistant Whip for our caucus. He sits on the House Business and Financial Services, Commerce and Gaming, and Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs committees.

Bill and his wife, Lisa, have three children and three grandchildren. You can find his bio here.

Headlines this week

    Washington state Senate OKs education-funding plan (AP/The Seattle Times)

        3 plans in play for state to fully fund education (The Everett Herald)

          Short picked for state Senate seat (The Wenatchee World) 

            Shelly Short’s legislative assistant appointed to Short’s former 7th District state House seat (The Spokesman-Review)   

                High-stakes battle under way over limited water in Washington state’s rural areas (AP/The Seattle Times)

                Washington lawmaker proposing sales tax 'holiday' for back-to-school purchases (Yakima Herald)

                EDITORIAL: State needs to join rest of nation with statewide tourism promotion effort (Tri-City Herald)

                Bill aims to promote tourism through board (Columbia Basin Herald)

                  Roanoke: What is a bipartisan solution to helping homeless people? (Washington State Wire)

                      Bear necessity? Plan would reintroduce grizzlies to Cascades (Yakima Herald)

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