Senate Republicans release school-funding plan emphasizing levy reform and ‘per pupil’ funding; no increase in state taxes

Senate Republicans today released a school-funding plan to respond to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary mandate.

The Seattle Times reports,  

Senate Republicans Friday released a sweeping education-funding plan that would change both how state K-12 teachers are paid and how schools are funded.

The Republican plan would raise money by shifting how state and local property-tax levies are used to fund K-12 education, which would impact each district differently. In addition to those changes, the state would add $1.4 billion per two-year budget cycle to supplement education funding.

The plan does not require new taxes.

Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia and chief GOP budget writer, said he intends to find $1.4 billion in the budget without raising taxes.

Among other things, the GOP proposal would get rid of the school-funding allocation model, would cap local property-tax levy rates, and would move Washington to a per-student model of school funding.

Voters will weigh in. The News Tribune reports,

The Senate GOP plan would institute a flat statewide property tax levy, replacing the current system of varying levy rates between districts. The state levy would raise about $2 billion per year, while getting rid of about $2.4 billion collected annually in local school district levies, said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, the Senate’s chief budget writer.

Republicans intend to send the plan to voters for final approval, Braun said, leaving open the possibility that voters could reject the plan and send lawmakers back to the drawing board.

“This is an enormous change in the way we tax our citizens,” Braun said. “This is quite naturally something we should ask our voters.”

The GOP model would replace the state’s current school funding formula with a set minimum funding level of $12,500 per student.

We’ll surely hear much more about this in the coming weeks. The GOP plan differs markedly from proposals offered by Gov. Inslee and legislative Democrats who have suggested tax increases of several billion dollars, including new carbon and capital gains taxes.

It’s good to have the pieces all in place.