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This Week in Olympia

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WA Capitol and Mount Rainier

Week of January 23

Republicans release Trump-DeVos style budget

On Friday, Republicans released their education budget proposal. There is something in there for everyone to hate.

  • Though it purports to add funding, take a look at what it really does:
  • Cuts pay for many teachers because it imposes an 80% limit on compensation, combined with some districts that will actually receive less money per student.
  • Slashes special ed funding by prohibiting use of local funds for special ed.
  • Freezes funding for small rural districts.
  • Increases class size and reduces the number of staff in schools across the state by eliminating I-1351.
  • Lowers teaching requirements, allowing anyone to teach as long as they pass a basic background test. No teaching certificates would be required.
  • Expands the number of charter schools.
  • Sets up the funding mechanisms for statewide vouchers – privatizing public education.
  • Oh – and places severe limits on local collective bargaining, the right to strike and due process.

This reckless and punitive move is what we’d expect to see from Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos. It goes without saying that WEA adamantly opposes this proposal.

We will provide a more detailed comparison of all three budgets early in the week, though we are in full support of the Governor’s budget proposal and encourage you to contact your legislators to support Inslee’s budget, and adamantly condemn the Senate’s.  

Speaking of Trump . . .

Senate Republicans may be scrambling a bit when it comes to scheduling votes, as two state Senators have been tapped for work in the Trump administration. We’ve already seen it play out on the levy cliff bill (see below).

Sen. Brian Dansel, LD 7, Ferry County, resigned his seat on Monday to take a job with the US Dept of Agriculture. We expect the replacement to be announced as soon as the first week of February. 

Sen. Doug Ericksen, LD 42, Whatcom County, will serve in a transitional role in the EPA. He is not resigning his seat, and will fly back and forth between Oly and DC in part to help maintain the Republican majority in the Senate.

And charter schools . . .

WEA is part of a coalition challenging the state's new charter school law, which we believe is unconstitutional. A King County Superior Court judge heard the case Friday. Highline EA members Sue McCabe and Veronica Fairchild both attended the hearing. They said it's wrong for the state to send public funding to privately run charter schools that aren't accountable to the public. The judge said he would issue a decision in February.

Educator Shortage

On Tuesday, Olympia EA members Caitlin Donnelly and Daniel McCartan spoke as part of the House Education Committee’s two-day work session on the educator shortage, covered here.  They talked about the three main factors contributing to the educator shortage: workload, support and compensation.

Fortunately, the Governor’s budget would make steady process in all three areas. We are encouraging WEA members to contact your lawmakers and tell them to build on the governor’s budget proposal to tackle the educator shortage.

Levy Cliff

As expected, the first bill to see action this year was the levy cliff bill, SHB 1059, which extends a higher levy rate for one more year.

The bill passed out of the House on Monday and moved to the Senate, surrounded by legislative drama. Senate Democrats, aware that they temporarily have more votes with two R’s working in DC, attempted a rule change that would let them vote on it on the floor, rather than moving it through a committee. They came up short however, and adjourned without a quorum. Now the bill will go to Senate Ways and Means on Monday.


For the very first time, the House Education committee voted out a bill that completely delinks state tests from graduation requirements, HB 1046. The vote was bipartisan with only two legislators, Hargrove and Stokesbary, voting against it.  

CTE MSOC Alphabet Soup

HB 1282/SB 5183 This bill, which would increase MSOC funding (materials, supplies and operating costs) for career and technical education (CTE) and skill centers, was heard in committee on Monday. 

The bill, as currently written, restricts the CTE MSOC funding to "allowable uses" identified in the bill language.  These “allowable uses” don’t include critical uses like operating costs or technology. We are working with the bill sponsors in both chambers to open up these restrictions and provide local school districts and educators flexibility and control over these funds.

Higher Education

There were four higher education bills heard on Tuesday.

HB 1168  - Directs the state board for community and technical colleges to create a plan to increase the number of courses taught by full-time, tenured faculty to 70% t by 2023. 

HB 1179 -  Would increase pay for adjunct faculty to the pro-rated equivalent of full time faculty pay by to 2020-2021 school year. 

Two WEA members spoke in favor of HB 1168 and HB 1179:

Carla Naccarato-Sinclair, our Community College and Technical College Chair and faculty president of the Spokane Community Colleges

Tobi Rosenberg, Bellevue College part-time faculty member.

Carla emphasized the fact that the faculty mix at our colleges is weighted strongly towards the overuse of part time contingent faculty who often teach more than half of the classes. Part time faculty salaries are still at only about 60% of what full timers make for the same work. Tobi shared her own story about the disparity between her salary and that of full time faculty with the same qualifications and experience who teach the same class.

HB 1238 – Encourages four year colleges and universities to increase the number of full time faculty.  UFWS president Bill Lyne spoke in favor of the bill.

HB 1237  - Provides for full-scope bargaining rights for our community and technical college faculty.

Carla Naccarato-Sinclair and Ted Baldwin, faculty union president of Olympic College, explained how the unfair prohibition on CCTC faculty to bargain for compensation with local funds negatively affects the colleges' ability to address salary disparities and hinders recruitment and retention.


On Thursday, PSHB 1115 had a hearing in the House. The companion bill SB 5070 was heard last week in the Senate.

Rep. Bergquist, the prime sponsor, worked closely with WEA to propose a substitute bill that would meet goals our paraeducators have long sought. If it passes as currently written, the State would fund a professional development system based on standards researched and developed by paraeducators and other educational experts.  The State would also fund and mandate that school districts provide paid time for paras to attend this professional development. Three paraeducators will serve on the Paraeducator Board too.

Cathy Smith, a paraeducator in Olympia testified in strong support of the Proposed Substitute.  The bill will now move to Appropriations.  WEA remains opposed to SB 5070 as it has not yet been amended.

Retirement Issues

HB 1484 - Was heard in House Appropriations Committee on Thursday. The bill would provide an additional $2 per service credit per month for all PERS and TRS Plan 1 members starting July 1, 2017. For someone with 30 years of service, this would raise their pension by $60 a month or $720 per year. There was fabulous turnout at the hearing from retired state employees and school employees. WEA-Retired members Lee Ann Prielipp, Ken Mortland, and Gery Gerst were among the educators who spoke at the hearing.


Member Lobby Day is February 1!


HB 1319 will get a hearing on Monday in the House Education Committee. It would reduce the frequency of teacher evaluations for those who receive a 3 or a 4 on their TPEP. WEA supports this bill.

Working Families Caucus

Rep. Monica Stonier is hosting a Working Families caucus meeting. WEA Lobbyists Julie Salvi and Lorrell Noahr will provide an update on all three budget proposals. WEA is supporting the Governor’s budget – don’t forget to send a message to your legislators telling them to support the Governor’s proposal.

ESA Salaries

On Thursday, House Appropriations will hear HB 1374, which would change the years of service model for salary allocation purposes. WEA supports this bill.  

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