Senate Inaction on Levy Cliff Frightens, Frustrates School Districts

School districts throughout the state are nervously watching the state Senate, hoping for action on a particular piece of legislation that seems to be going nowhere. Dan Frizzell has that story.

The first piece of legislation passed by the House this year was the so-called levy cliff bill.  It promises school districts that regardless of what lawmakers do about education funding in the current session, districts will have at least as much money to work with next year as they did this year.  Without the levy cliff bill, Washington school districts have no assurances that they wouldn’t see a precipitous drop in local funding for the 2017-18 school year. They’re writing next year’s budgets right – a difficult process if you don’t know how much you’ll have to spend. The bipartisan bill sailed through the House last month but is being ignored in the Republican-controlled Senate.  Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan is frustrated by the Senate’s refusal to act.

“Something needs to be done.  They’re actually very nervous about putting that budget together.  And they don’t want to also do two separate budgets, one that assume the levy cliff happens, one that assumes that it doesn’t.  What’s the harm in doing this bill?  All it does is provide assurance to our local school districts that they’re going to get no less money next year. I just can’t understand why they can’t pass that simple bill that passed out of here with strong bipartisan support.” 

School directors from both sides of the Cascades visited the state Capitol Tuesday to urge Republican Senate leaders to allow a vote on the levy cliff bill. Those requests seem to have fallen on deaf ears, and districts say they’ll soon have to send pink slips to teachers who could be laid off next year without this legislative insurance policy. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.