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Senate Budget goes Backwards on Educator Pay, Shortchanges Class Sizes

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A day after more than 400 WEA members lobbied for education funding in Olympia, the Senate released a budget plan that goes backwards on educator pay and health benefits and ignores the need to reduce class sizes in grades 4-12. Here’s WEA’s news release about the Senate budget:

Senate budget fails on teacher pay, smaller class sizes

The Senate Republicans’ budget plan released today fails to fund the smaller K-12 class sizes approved by voters in November, and it fails to fund the competitive professional compensation required to attract and keep qualified educators.

On educator pay and health benefits alone, the Senate budget is $368 million less than proposed by the House on Friday. The Senate plan reinstates the voter-approved cost-of-living adjustments for educators, but not the larger 4.8 percent increase proposed by the House. Although educators have not received a state COLA in six years, the Senate budget does not take any steps to address competitive, professional wages. The Senate plan also has no increase for K-12 employees’ health care, despite rising costs.

With no adjustment for rising health care costs, many teachers and support professionals will take home less money and will see no increase in overall income next school year. As the Supreme Court has said, “nothing could be more basic than adequate pay.” This budget falls far short of meeting the state’s obligation to fund educator compensation.

The Senate plan also fails to fund smaller class sizes for students in grades 4-12, which is current law as approved by voters.

“Overall, the Senate budget fails to fully fund K-12 public education as required by the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision,” said WEA President Kim Mead.

WEA members are advocating for a state budget that:

  • Increases salaries to move toward professional, competitive wages, recognizing that educators have gone six years without a state-funded COLA and have lost 13 percent to inflation, and legislators themselves are likely to receive an 11.2 percent raise
  • Increases funding for educator health care in line with increased costs, recognizing that the state health care allocation for K-12 educators has not increased since 2011.
  • Funds smaller class sizes in every grade level, with an emphasis on low-income schools, recognizing that voters approved I-1351 and smaller K-12 class sizes are now part of basic education
  • Raises revenue through a tax on investment profits (capital gains), taxes on polluters and closing tax loopholes, recognizing our current tax system is unfair and fails to provide adequate funding for education and social and health services


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