January 30, 2017
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Senate MCC unveils education funding and McCleary plan

The Republican-led Senate Majority Coalition Caucus released it education funding plan on Friday. It modifies how schools are funded and teachers are paid.

The plan would cap property tax levy rates and move to a per-student model of school funding, similar to the funding system used in Massachusetts. The state would pay at least $12,500 for each student, said Sen. John Braun, R- Centralia and lead budget writer.

The plan would shift how state and local property tax levies are used to pay for K-12 education. Instead of variable property tax rates in each district, there would be a flat statewide property tax levy of $1.80 per $1,000 in assessed value. That would raise about $2 billion per year, while eliminating about $2.4 billion collected annually from the current variable property tax rates in different districts.

Braun said he intends to find $1.4 billion in the budget without raising taxes to add to education, on top of the $2 billion raised through the local effort school levies. That's in contrast to plans from Gov. Jay Inslee and legislative Democrats, who propose billions in new taxes on carbon, capital gains, service-sector businesses and others.

The plan is “a fair and clean way to do what we had to do to fix this problem,” said Braun. The plan includes a referendum clause, which requires voter approval for implementation. The News Tribune has more.

By 2020, school districts could enact new local levies at lower rates, but those funds could only be spent on programs outside of basic education.

New teachers would see a raise to $45,000 a year. Top teachers would earn bonuses.

The plan meets an AWB priority, which is support for career and technical education.

The Seattle Times has more on the story.

The education funding bill was heard this afternoon in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

For more, contact AWB's government affairs team: Amy Anderson for education issues and Eric Lohnes for tax and fiscal policy.

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Kudos to Microsoft for bold public-policy goals for Washington state

By The Seattle Times Editorial Board

Microsoft is taking its regional public service to a new level with the release of an ambitious legislative agenda for Washington state.

Under its president, Brad Smith, the company has increasingly advocated for education, transportation and economic development.

Recognizing that the entire state has unmet needs, the company is broadening its agenda beyond the Puget Sound area. Best of all, Microsoft is offering to help incubate and partly fund several new programs to get them launched.

The public benefits from such corporate citizens providing thoughtful and supportive engagement on critical policy issues.

Read the full editorial in The Seattle Times
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