A well thought out plan to pay for school workers, including K-12 teachers, were unveiled by Governor Jay Inslee on December 13. The plan accommodated a funding of $4 billion. The amount is supposed to come up through a series of proposed new taxes during the coming two year budget. This plan solves the end piece of the 2012 Supreme Court order on education funding. The latter is known as McCleary decision.
Education budget and Republicans
A large chunk of the $4.4 billion in new revenues for the state operating budget for the 2017 to 2019 period would be earmarked for education. Approximately $2.75 billion of that budget will cover educator and teacher salaries so that it complies with the McCleary decision made by the court.
On December 13, Republicans began opposing the proposal almost immediately. Mark Schoesler, the Senate Majority Leader and elected Republican from Ritzville, said that the plan mooted by the governor was by far the largest single increase in tax in the history of the state. He was joined by another Republican, Senator Anne Reivers of La Center. She is also a member of the Education Funding Task Force of the state.
The proposal made by Inslee goes deeper. It puts in money for the recruitment of better teachers and retaining them. It also provides funding to have more positions for counselors and school nurses. The money for funding is supposed to come from a slew of brand new taxes to be imposed on carbon emissions and also capital gains. It will also be taken from the state occupation tax and state business tax. There were talks about rolling back a few tax exemptions.
The plan got support from Democrats. Pat Sullivan, the House Majority Leader and the elected Democrat from Covington, said that he continues to review the Inslee proposal. He said that he appreciates that Inslee was upfront about dealing with the issue of teacher pay.
For the Democrats, it is going to be a tough call. The Republicans have fought hard against the imposition of carbon cap and trade plan and capital gains tax in 2015. Inslee proposed the same at that time too. Both plans quickly died at that time. Voters in 2016 rejected a measure of the carbon tax ballot which is inclusive of a number of cuts to a number of other taxes. It is to be mentioned, however, that the initiative did not had Inslee’s backing or any one among the environmental community.