Our fight for adequate COLAs comes down to the wire
Taking Action in Olympia, Session Week 7
Senate budget shortchanges COLAs
In the face of widespread school staffing shortages, it’s critical that our state budget includes Cost of Living Adjustments that keep pace with inflation so we can recruit and retain educators. The Senate’s proposed operating budget falls short, though, handing educators across the state a virtual cut in pay compared to the rising cost of living. Monday, the day the Senate budget was released, was WEA Member Lobby Day and members immediately made sure lawmakers know we need a full COLA. More than 2,000 educators have spoken out in favor of a full 5.5% COLA. The budget conference committee meets this week and we will keep advocating for COLAs that invest in educators. Send your Senator an email now.
Take action! Coming up this week…
- Tomorrow, Senate Ways & Means is having a marathon session to hear the last bills before cutoff including expanding language access in schools (HB 1153) and expanding student loan forgiveness for nurse educators (HB 2007). Votes on these bills are anticipated tomorrow or Monday.
- Policy bills need to be out of Senate Ways & Means and House Appropriations by Monday night, and several WEA priorities are up for committee votes this weekend or Monday.
- In Ways & Means, funding more mental health supports for students (HB 1664); stabilization for levies and levy equalization (HB 1590), a school funding safety net for districts with lower property values; allowing retirees to work more hours (HB 1699); increasing broadband access (HB 1723); and making higher education more accessible (HB 1835 & HB 1659).
- In Appropriations, the voting rights bill (SB 5597), bills to expand apprenticeships (SB 5600 and SB 5764), a school district tribal consultation bill (SB 5252) and a financial literacy bill (SB 5720).
- A bill to invest in school seismic and tsunami safety (SB 5933) has a possible vote Monday in the House Capital Budget Committee.
- We are waiting for the public service loan forgiveness bill (SB 5847) to be scheduled for a vote in House Appropriations.
- The House and Senate will pass budgets (SB 5693 and HB 1816) in the next few days and the budget conference committee will come together this week to work out a final proposed budget. Once it comes out of conference committee, the budget cannot be amended. WEA will continue our work to ensure funding for student mental health supports, for COLAs, and for other priorities.
- Floor action in both chambers resumes on Tuesday and we’re advocating for passage of many of our key priorities. In addition to the priorities listed above, other key bills include:
- In the Senate, creating and enforcing ergonomic standards (HB 1837), expanding higher ed access (HB 1659), and making Juneteenth a school holiday (HB 1617);
- In the House, updating higher ed faculty ethics (SB 5854); retiree plan 1 COLAs (SB 5676), and recognizing January as Chinese American History Month (SB 5264). A bill creating band-aid solutions for a broken education funding system (SB 5202) that WEA opposes could have a vote and we encourage Representatives to vote against it.
WEA members who testified this week
Ruth Ingebrand (Vancouver ESP), Maya Vergien (Bellevue EA) and Yelonda Wilke (Pullman ESP) on the proposed Senate budget; WEA President Larry Delaney testified on the proposed House budget; Allison Snow (Bellevue EA) and Caitlin Tumlinson (Nine Mile Falls EA) on stable funding; Kathryn Salveson (Lake Washington EA) and Maya Vergien (Bellevue EA) on student mental health supports, Gloria Smith, Neva Luke, and Mary Lindsey (WEA Retired) on Plan 1 COLA.
If you provided verbal or written testimony before the legislature, we’d like to do a shout-out to you! Please contact WEA Lobbyist Simone Boe.
Tracking our priorities
- The judge’s decision on the capital gains tax lawsuit could come any day now.
- In other news, did you see WEA President Larry Delaney’s video about capital gains on the SLOG? Larry puts on his math teacher hat to break down how the capital gains tax works.