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This Week in Olympia

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Oly_cherry_trees_Cap_BldgWeek of March 27

April 4 is the day that contempt fines against the legislature will hit $60 million!  Watch for our Thunderclap that morning – we should have over 250,000 messages appear on Facebook and Twitter at 11:30 a.m. telling the legislature to do its job and fully fund education!

Listen for radio ads coming next week too. We are using the $60 million milestone as a hook to support the House budget and oppose the Senate’s. 

We’ve been hearing from House members that our lobbying efforts are helping, but they need us to keep at it. Tell them to stay strong for our students – send in this action alert! 

House Budget

Speaking of the House budget, they introduced it last week. WEA President Kim Mead testified in favor of it, also encouraging House D’s to stay strong. “Our students and educators are counting on you to stay true to your Democratic values. Continue fighting for policies and funding that put our families first. Stay strong. Don’t back down.”

Here’s a rundown of the House budget and education plan:

  • Provides a significant increase in state -funded base pay for all certificated and classified staff
  • Funds voter approved COLAS for K-12 basic education and higher ed increases
  • Adds support staff for social and emotional needs of students
  • Maintains local control and flexibility for districts
  • Protects collective bargaining rights
  • Maintains professional standards regarding certification
  • Maintains NBCT bonuses.
  • Protects, but delays by two more years the full implementation of class size initiative

House Revenue Package

The House also provided a revenue package of progressive (read more fair) taxes to help fund education, as well as essential social and health services. The proposed revenue changes come from several sources:

  • A graduated real estate excise tax that will cut taxes for transactions below $250,000 (representing 67% of all sales) and increase taxes on real estate transactions above $1 million in value (less than 3% of sales).   
  • A Business and Occupation (B & O) tax relief effort that lowers taxes for 80% of businesses in the state while adding a surcharge on B & O taxes for those with over $500,000 of taxable revenue (gross receipts).
  • A capital gains tax on profits from high-end capital gains, with notable exemptions that include profits from home sales and pensions.
  • Sales and use tax is made more fair by expanding the sales and use tax to cover purchases from out-of-state sellers.
  • The artificial 1% limit on levy growth is revised to allow property tax revenue to keep better pace with economic drivers for state budgets as well as local government budgets.
  • In addition, the House closes five tax preferences.

Capital budget

The Senate passed a $4 billion statewide capital construction budget on Thursday. It includes $1.1 billion for K-12 school and classroom construction and $700 million for higher education. School districts have been passing capital bond measures for new and modernized school buildings at historic rates. The bipartisan Senate capital budget writers responded by funding a historic level of state matching funds for these projects.

In addition, the Senate funded the following new initiatives:

  • A new grant program for rural school modernization for small school districts that do not have the local taxing capacity to meet the state’s construction matching requirements; equal access grants to allow for facility repairs and alterations to improve compliance with the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Healthy school grants which now include specific funding to replace drinking water fixtures found to have high levels of lead

Last biennium the state provided $234 million to build new classrooms in response to the legislative mandate to lower class sizes in grades kindergarten through third. OSPI identified an additional $231 million of needed grants to fully-fund the legislature’s current K-3 class size reduction capital grant program. The Senate only provided $17 million to address the remaining need. We hope to see funding for this program increased before the final budget is adopted.

Next week the House will release its capital budget.

Policy cut-off was Wednesday. Here is an update on some bills of interest.


We’ve seen a lot of back and forth between chambers on testing bills. The Senate budget assumes some monetary savings by delaying the state biology end of course exam. The House budget includes greater savings from its full delink bill, SHB 1046. The Senate did not pass that bill however.assumes some monetary savings by delaying the state biology end of course exam. The House budget includes greater savings from its full delink bill, SHB 1046. The Senate did not pass that bill however.

This week, the House Education Committee made use of a minor Senate assessment bill, SB 5639, to revive SHB 1046, by deleting the Senate language and inserting the language from SHB 1046. SB 5639 is now in House Appropriations. If it passes that committee, and is voted off the House floor, it will be sent back to the Senate for its response. Stay tuned. 

Higher Ed (two year)

EHB 1237,  heard in the Senate Commerce, Labor, and Sports Committee last week did not get out of that committee by cutoff, so is now dead. 

However, WEA has assured that the House Budget includes an updated proviso allowing our faculty to use local funds to pay for increments. If the proviso remains in the final budget throughout the budget negotiations, it will continue and extend two more years the current allowance to use local funds for increments. If it does not, the current proviso sunsets June 30 of this year.

On Tuesday, the Senate Higher Ed committee held a public hearing on 2SHB 1168 to increase full-time faculty in two year colleges. This plan, as amended, is not as robust as the original version, but it would provide a gradual ramp up of the number of full time positions. WEA testified in support of the bill, which did not pass out of the Senate Higher Ed committee by cutoff.  However, the House budget contains $884,000 to implement 34 conversions starting in fall 2018. 

Anti Union action

The Freedom Foundation' SB 5914 would allow districts who collect dues through payroll to charge up to a 5% administrative fee. For state agencies, the fee collection would fund the PERC. WEA opposes this bill.


Both the House and Senate (1115/5070) versions are now identical. They mandate professional development and for all school districts to provide four days of it for paraeducators. ESHB 1115 is headed to Rules in the Senate and SSB 5070 has a hearing in Appropriations Saturday. As all unions representing paraeducators now agree with this bill, we are hopeful it will eventually make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature.


SHB 1341, would provide some relief from the Pro-Teach assessment. The bill is still alive and sitting in Senate Rules. It has been amended several times and we are uncertain what its final form will be. WEA maintains its position of eliminating the pro-teach requirement.

School Nurses

SB 5325 clarifies the authority of the school nurse, protecting the sanctity of their Registered Nurse license. It is in House Rules, one step away from the Governor’s desk. WEA and our School Nurses of Washington (SNOW) support. 

Physical Education

SHB 1235 is one the first bills to make it all the way through both chambers on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature. This bill, while simple, is important. School districts will conduct an inventory of the content and time of their physical education programs. This will then allow the Legislature to assess if current law is being followed and if any future changes or improvements are needed.

Educational Interpreters

SSB 5142 extends the timeline and directs the State to find assessments that assess all types of sign languages a school interpreter might use, instead of just one. It's on the House floor awaiting action. WEA supports. 

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