Ed Funding Taskforce Announces K-12 Recommendations

The Joint Task Force on Education Funding announced K-12 spending enhancements Monday after meeting throughout the interim tackling the issue. House Bill 2824 created the Taskforce during the 2012 legislative session to come up with a plan on how to fully-fund K-12 after the Washington State Supreme Court found the State in violation of its constitutional duty to do so. The Taskforce had been given the difficult assignment of tackling the following issues:

  • Make recommendations for how the Legislature can meet the requirements of ESHB 2261 (2009) and SHB 2776 (2010).
  • Develop a proposal for a reliable and dependable funding mechanism to support basic education programs.
  • At a minimum, the funding mechanism must support full implementation of the programmatic enhancements of 2261 and 2776, including full-day kindergarten; reduced K-3 class size; increased allocations for maintenance, supplies, and operating costs (MSOC); and a new pupil transportation formula.
  • Task force may recommend multiple options, but must recommend one preferred alternative, including an outline of necessary implementing legislation.
  • Consider the 2012 Quality Education Council (QEC) recommendations for the Bilingual funding formula and make recommendations.

According to the Washington State School Directors’ Association,  the taskforce proposes funding for K-12 transportation, maintenance, supplies and operating costs (MSOC) , K-3 class size, full-day kindergarten, 80 hours of increased instructional time, a 24-credit diploma, increased allocation for classified and administrative salaries, and accountability, evaluation and common core systems. The cost in the 2013-15 biennium would be $1.4 billion.

While the Democrats’ proposal would use the schedule in statute for prioritizing funding, with transportation funded in 2013-15, MSOC by fiscal year 2016, and all others by the 2017-19 biennium, it included a caveat that “amounts may vary depending on the phase-in of the components.”

To see a short description of their final proposal click here.

How this might all be funded

Democrats on the taskforce proposed several revenue options which would offset the costs associated. These include:

  • Use Rainy Day Fund
  • Retain existing taxes set to expire
  • Additional budget efficiencies and savings
  • Eliminate tax exemptions
  • Transfer pupil transportation costs to the state transportation budget with revenue increases to cover costs
  • Add an excise tax on capital gains (excluding first $10,000, residence, and retirement distributions, retains same exclusions in federal law for mortgage-derived gains; 5 percent rate; possible circuit breaker)

And according to the School Directors’ Association, Democrats kept property tax options on the table for discussion, although no specific recommendation was made. Without detail, options included revising the state school levy growth factor, increasing the state school levy, or using the state school levy to replace local levies.

The Joint Taskforce, comprised of democrats, republicans and citizen stakeholders, voted 6-2 in favor of the measure. Voting in favor were Sens. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, and David Frockt, D-Seattle, Reps. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, and Marcie Maxwell, D-Renton, Mary Lindquist of the WEA, and Highline School District Superintendent Susan Enfield. Voting against were Reps. Gary Alexander, R-Olympia, and Susan Fagan, R-Pullman. Task Force Chair Jeff Vincent, and Sens. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, and Joe Fain, R-Auburn, were absent.