Haigh reform would help timber communities and schools

Tree-climber-V0001113Legislation by Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton) would stop penalizing public schools in timber communities when it comes to basic education funding, according to a news release.

“This is a common-sense reform that reflects our common values,” said Haigh, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. “It’s supported by Democrats and Republicans who agree that it’s wrong to let a quirk in the law punish students in timber towns.”

The quirk comes from the fact that the state’s forests were picked by the state’s founders as a source for school funding. But if your home county has federal forests, as many rural counties do, local schools get less in basic education funding from the state.

The total different is about $8.3 million in 2014.

“Eight million dollars is budget dust up in Seattle or Bellevue, but out in one-stoplight logging towns, that could half the budget for the entire school district. So this reform matters for kids and teachers and parents out in timber country.”

Coastal Caucus members have already signed on to co-sponsor House Bill 2207, including Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Sequim), Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) and Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (D-Sequim). Six Republican lawmakers have also signed the bill as co-sponsors.

“Families and schools out in timber country are still recovering from the recession,” Haigh said. “This reform would help give them the education they need to live the American Dream.”