The pending Levy Cliff that impacts our school district’s ability to raise fund to pay teachers for 2017-2018 is expiring and will result in a loss of an estimated $44 million to Seattle School District if not extended one year.
SHB 1059, the bill which extends the levy cliff, is currently stalled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This committee has taken no action on it at all, and if not brought to the floor for a vote by this Friday, February 18th, it will be tabled. YOUR IMMEDIATE ACTION IS REQUIRED.
This extension has been passed through the House already; but without immediate Senate approval, our district will most likely have to cut staff by May 2017 to account for the shortfall. Consider the first to go? Nurses, librarians, kindergarten aides, custodians, new teachers. In schools that have reached capacity, they’ll likely face even larger class sizes as well. We urge you to reach out to the Senators of the Ways and Means Committee.
Here’s a sample phone or email script that you can modify with your own personal story.
Subject: Ways and Means committee: please vote on SHB 1059 IMMEDIATELY
I’m writing/calling to urge you to vote immediately to pass SHB 1059 to extend the levy cliff. This bill is urgently needed right now to prevent immediate layoffs and reduce anxiety and uncertainty about next year’s funding for students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators at public schools throughout the state. I cannot believe that this bill is still sitting in committee and has not even been scheduled for a vote. I can only conclude from this inaction that the leadership of this committee does not care about our students. Administrators need certainty now so that they can make hiring decisions. This cannot wait.
Senate Ways and Means Committee
Particular attention should be given to the highlighted members.
|John Braun (R)
303 John A. Cherberg Building
|Sharon Brown (R)
202 Irv Newhouse Building
|Dino Rossi (R)
403 Legislative Building
|Jim Honeyford (R)
Vice Chair, Capital Budget
112 Irv Newhouse Building
|Hans Zeiger (R)
109 Irv Newhouse Building
|Kevin Ranker (D)
Ranking Minority Member
215 John A. Cherberg Building
|Christine Rolfes (D)
Assistant Ranking Minority Member, Operating Budget
233 John A. Cherberg Building
| David Frockt (D)
Assistant Ranking Minority Member, Capital Budget
227 John A. Cherberg Building
|Barbara Bailey (R)
407 Legislative Building
|Randi Becker (R)
305 Legislative Building
|Andy Billig (D)
412 Legislative Building
|Reuven Carlyle (D)
213 John A. Cherberg Building
|Steve Conway (D)
241 John A. Cherberg Building
|Jeannie Darneille (D)
237 John A. Cherberg Building
309 Legislative Building
|Bob Hasegawa (D)
223 John A. Cherberg Building
|Karen Keiser (D)
219 John A. Cherberg Building
|Mark Miloscia (R)
105 Irv Newhouse Building
|Mike Padden (R)
106 Irv Newhouse Building
|Jamie Pedersen (D)
235 John A. Cherberg Building
|Ann Rivers (R)
204 Irv Newhouse Building
|Mark Schoesler (R)
307 Legislative Building
|Judy Warnick (R)
103 Irv Newhouse Building
It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.
Preamble of article IX of the Washington State Constitution
In 2012 the State Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary case that the state had failed its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education. They ordered the State to come up with a plan to fix it and fully fund basic education by the 2017-2018 school year.
After a steady 30 years of underfunding public education throughout the state, Washington legislature still only funds 70% of what it costs to just cover the bare minimum of services to our schools. The remainder is raised by local communities through levy measures, such as the two we voted to enact last year, to cover capital and operational expenses, making up a quarter of the District’s budget.
Adding to the already inadequate funding, the legislature has restricted communities’ ability to collect on such voter-approved operational levies. This so-called Levy Cliff contributes $30 million to the budget shortfall .
The District is projecting a $74 million shortfall for the 2017-18 school year. The possible implications for Bryant include losing teachers, scaling back the librarian position by half, and losing our assistant principal.
*Update: The SPS School Board has reached a consensus on cuts to address $63 million of the shortfall if State Legislature does not come through with a plan to fund education. Review the SPS proposal online.
Read Paramount Duty’s flyer explaining the budget shortfall and levy cliff for more information.
Call your lawmakers.
Send them postcards.
Inundate them with email.
We must pressure our state legislators to do two things:
- Extend the “Levy Cliff” by April and make adjustments to House Bill SHB 2893 in order to allow the City to collect on our already-approved levies.
- Amply fund basic education as they are mandated to do by the State constitution and by the State Supreme Court following the McCleary decision.
Call and write the Governor and your Legislators (contact information on the right-hand sidebar) today with these important messages. And since the legislators in our district are Democratic largely committed to coming up with a plan to thwart a budget shortfall, it’s of utmost importance that you enlist your friends your friends and family in other parts of the state to pressure their districts’ legislators as well. Look up your district and legislators and contact them today!
Here’s a sample email message that you can use or modify (courtesy of Washington’s Paramount Duty):
I write to urge you to take two actions as soon as the 2017 legislative session convenes: (1) fully fund public education with new progressive revenue and (2) delay the levy cliff to January 1, 2019.
The hard reality is that even if the Legislature enacts legislation by the end of the 2017 legislative session, by allowing the State to meet its obligations to amply fund basic education by September 1, 2018, the levy cliff means that many school districts’ budgets will be reduced by millions of dollars from January 1, 2018 until September 1, 2018. Overall, the levy cliff threatens about $500 million per year in K-12 funding in Washington’s 295 school districts. In many districts, these cuts will likely require numerous educator and staff layoffs. The levy cliff is already affecting school districts because districts budget based on the school year, and not on the calendar year. Districts are already preparing their 2017/18 school year budgets.
Of course, any local levy revenues and levy equalization amounts do not suffice; the State must fully fund public schools. Washington’s constitution requires the State to amply fund basic education with dependable and regular State tax sources. But the State cannot take the patient (the public school system) off life support (the local levies) before the new heart (regular and dependable State tax sources) is available for surgery.
Here’s a sample phone message that you can use or modify (courtesy of Seattle Council PTSA):
Seattle students, parents and teachers need you to act by March 2017 to extend the “levy cliff” AND fully fund compensation for the 2017-18 school year. Without your swift action, our schools will sustain deep budget cuts. The school district will spend precious resources laying off skilled teachers and staff and cutting vital programs, many of which are mandated by State laws. Please do not allow our kids’ education to be disrupted this year and next, while you continue to fully comply with your paramount duty to amply fund basic education by September 1, 2018. I urge you to fulfill the promise of amply funding basic education in Washington per the WA State Supreme court McCleary decision.