House passes “levy cliff” reprieve (update to include Spokesman-Review editorial)

Today the House voted to pass HB 1059, a one-year “levy cliff” reprieve for school districts. The Seattle Times reports,

Washington lawmakers moved one step closer toward a solution to the “levy cliff” — which could cause a $500 million shortfall for school districts starting in 2018 — when the House voted Monday to pass a bill designed to delay the cliff by one year.

Without such action,school districts, starting in 2018, wouldn’t be able to collect as much money as they have in the past through local property-tax levies. Most districts currently can collect up to 28 percent of their levy base, which is the amount they receive in state and federal funding. That percentage, known as the levy lid, will decrease to 24 percent starting in 2018 — unless the Legislature extends that deadline.

We last wrote about the issue here, noting that if lawmakers complete their McCleary work this year, then the levy cliff ceases to be a problem. In today’s Times story, reporter Paige Cornwall writes,

Republican lawmakers, however, said the bill is only a temporary fix that suggests the Legislature isn’t committed to coming up with a full plan to comply with the McCleary decision. 

Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, called the measure “a resignation that we are going to fail” in coming up with a full plan.

The Associated Press points out that the bill passed with a dozen Republican votes.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

UPDATE  We meant to include this editorial support for a reprieve in the Spokesman-Review.

Though we aren’t thrilled with another local-levy extension, it looks to be the most practical solution…

Local school districts shouldn’t pay the price for the failure of lawmakers to do their jobs in a timely manner. If it takes a one-year extension, so be it.