Confused about the “levy swap”? New podcast explains all.

As lawmakers continue to struggle with how to meet the state Supreme Court’s McCleary mandate to reduce school districts’ reliance on local levies to fund basic education, the levy swap has again gained currency. Melissa Santos reports on one legislative proposal. 

A Republican plan to reduce school districts’ use of local levies to pay for basic education would raise property taxes in more than 40 percent of Washington’s school districts, including in high property value areas such as Seattle and Bellevue, according to nonpartisan legislative staff.

As currently written, the property tax swap proposed by Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, would create higher property taxes in 123 of the state’s 295 school districts starting in 2020, the first year the plan would be fully implemented, Senate committee staff estimated.

There are plenty of permutations of what is, in essence, a simple idea: raise the state property tax, reduce local levies, and used the increased state property tax  revenue to fund the schools. Problem solved: state funding up, local levies down. 
 
But it can quickly become complicated, depending on what else is included and how the dollars are distributed. A new podcast from the Washington Research Council carefully walks through some of the options, including the capital gains tax twist some are promoting.  It’s fairly short, about 15 minutes, and worth the listen. The podcast complements the Council’s policy brief on the same subject.