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This Week in Olympia

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CTC bargaining group

Week of January 22

Lobby Day is Wednesday  -  Wear Red for Public Education

Wednesday is the WEA member lobby day in Olympia. About 100 educators from around the state will be in the Capitol talking to legislators about our Unity Agenda and how they can support it.

Can’t come to Olympia? You can still support lobby day by wearing red to your school to show your support for your students, school funding and public schools. And make sure to take pictures and post them on social media, with the hashtags #waedu and #waleg.

Unity Agenda: Community and Technical Colleges

Great news! SB 5993, the CCTC Equal Bargaining Rights bill, was voted out of the Senate Labor and Commerce committee on Wednesday on a party line vote. A poison pill amendment pushed by the college presidents and brought forward by Senator Braun was blocked by the democrats and fortunately did not pass.

The bill was passed to Ways and Means where it will get a hearing on Thursday. 

HB 1488 is another of our Unity Agenda priorities, which gives Dreamers resident status for state financial aid programs. It passed out of the House Higher Education Committee this week. It is the same as SB 5074 which passed out of the Senate already.

Unity Agenda: McCleary Plan “fixes”

On Monday, the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee heard a variety of bills to correct glitches in last year’s education funding bill, which included SB 6362 and SB 6397.  

SB 6362 was sponsored at the request of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It has a policy intent of increasing local levy capacity and making technical corrections.

SB 6397 is a key priority of WEA’s Unity Agenda.

WEA, joined by superintendents, school boards, principals, parents and other school employee unions testified in support of it. Highlights of the bill would:

  • Provide full funding of McCleary compensation levels in the 2018-19 school year to comply with the state Supreme Court ruling.
  • Create an “experience mix” factor for districts with above average salary costs
  • Improve the regionalization pay to address border effects caused by the new law.  
  • Phase in the remaining I-1351 class size and workload reductions.
  • Increase local levy funding and flexibility to meet local needs beyond state-funded basic education.
  • Modify the funding formula to ensure special/high needs students receive the supports they need to learn.
  • Make sure districts receive enough funding to meet ongoing salary needs.

The Committee merged parts of the two bills together in a new substitute bill and advanced it to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The new bill made some of our requested changes, including adjusting the regional pay system and adding a bit more money for special education. We expect Ways and Means to make more changes, such as increasing local levy flexibility and addressing the state Supreme Court ruling.

Senator Zieger, ranking Republican on the Senate Education Committee recommended a no vote on SB 6362 because he thinks it should be handled behind closed doors and not in a public committee process. Given that the first bill was handled behind closed doors, and has so many flaws, WEA strenuously objects to this strategy.

Unity Agenda: Retirees

House Appropriations heard bills on Monday related to the Plan 1 COLA for retirees, who have not had a COLA since 2010. HB 2511 is not as strong as we would like, but WEA supports it in recognition that retirees deserve a COLA to make up some of the purchasing power lost over the years. 

The Senate Ways and Means Committee held hearings on a related bill, HB 6290SB 6305 and SB 6340 which offer other improvements. WEA supports all of these bills. They are now awaiting action in the Senate and House fiscal committees and WEA continues to push for action.   

And finally, House Appropriations heard HB 2379 that would allow some Plan 2 and 3 retirees with early retirement factors to become substitute teachers in non-administrative roles. It would also allow counselors, nurses, OT/PTs, paraprofessionals, bus drivers and other educators to return as substitutes. It is in House Appropriations awaiting further action. WEA supports this bill.  

Service Credits for Veterans

HB 2701, which would provide credit for military service toward retirement for veterans within TRS or PERS had a public hearing last week, and could be voted out of the House Committee on Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs next week. WEA supports.

Health Care

The Senate Ways and Means and House Appropriations Committees held hearings on a number of bills related to the School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB) this week. The WEA specifically supported HB 2657 and its companion bill, SB 6288. We also generally supported most elements of the other bills, HB 2438HB 2755and HB 2655The Senate companion bills are SB 6241, SB 6461 and SB 6286, respectively. 

HB 2657 / SB 6288 would ensure that school employees receive the same health care allocation as state employees (we currently receive less); would allow locals to include health care benefits for part time employees (which many ESPs currently receive) and would add more educators to the SEBB to ensure we retain a strong voice in health care options. The bills also allow districts to provide optional benefits if they are not already offered through the SEBB and would and allow local plans outside of the SEBB if they meet state requirements.

Breakfast After the Bell

HB 1508 Breakfast after the bell bill was passed out of the House and moved to the Senate. This bill was sponsored by WEA member Representative Monica Stonier.

Next week:

Unity Agenda: Students

SB 5689 is one of our Unity Agenda bills. It supports Washington state's economy and immigrants' role in the workplace and will have a hearing on Tuesday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. WEA supports.

Unity Agenda: K-12

SB 6531, would provide funding for school construction. It will be heard in Senate Ways and Means on Monday. The bill would:

  • Increase the floor of the state matching from twenty to thirty percent.  The effect of this is that no school district would get less than 30% of matched construction costs from the state.
  • Phase-in an increase to the amount of square feet every student is provided in the funding formula.  The current funding formula has not seen an increase in space allocations since 1979.
  • Phase-in an increase to the actual cost per square foot of construction.  The current funding formula provides about ½ of what actual costs are. 
  • Provide a funding floor for small elementary schools so that small, rural non-high districts can participate in the state’s matching grant program.


HB 2698, the bill extending the timeline for paraeducators to meet new employment standards (with other changes) will go to the House Education Committee next week, where it will be voted on and we expect it to pass. It’s companion bill SB 6388 was heard in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee this week and could possibly be voted on next week. WEA supports. 


This is the time in the legislative schedule when many bills move to committees where they may or may not be voted on. Most of the bills we are tracking have fiscal impacts and are unlikely to move out of committee before budget bills are introduced. And, as always, many education bills are deemed necessary to implement the budget, or NTIB, and therefore can be addressed up until the final budget votes are taken. 

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