This week brought a lot of new analysis, but not much progress on resolving the landmark McCleary school-funding case.
This week brought somethoughtful analysis of the four competing proposals to change how Washington funds its public-school system.
Otherwise, it was a relatively quiet week, partly because not much is expected to happen until the House and Senate put out their budget proposals much later in the month.
Here’s a roundup of the (relatively light) McCleary action over the past week and new think pieces on each proposal:
On Friday, TJ Martinell at The Lens offered a good breakdown of what moderate Democrats hope to accomplish with their alternative McCleary fix.
Their plan, which supporters view as a middle ground between the rival House and Senate bills, would lock in local property-tax levies at their existing rates but also offer extra support for “property poor” school districts on top of what they already get.
It’s also a cheaper option: With an estimated price tag of $4.4 billion over the next four years, the “compromise” plan comes in much lower than what the House Democrat and Senate Republican plans are projected to cost — $7.6 billion and $6.9 billion, respectively.
The middle-of-the-road plan got its first hearing on Monday.
Martinell also covered that hearing, with some testimony offering reserved appreciation for the proposal.
Also Monday, Republicans in the Senate considered holding floor votes on new taxes proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee to see what will actually stick with his fellow Democrats.
But, as Walker Orenstein writes in The News Tribune, Democratic leaders dismissed the votes as “a political gambit and waste of time since Republicans will vote down the taxes anyway.”
On Tuesday, Crosscut delved deep into how Republicans are about $1 billion short of what they’ll need to pay for their preferred McCleary solution. And Senate Democrats failed to attach two amendments to a bill that would have delayed a so-called “levy cliff” that, if no action is taken, will automatically lower local property taxes for schools.
That drop could cost districts about $350 million if the state doesn’t increase its education spending by that amount.
House Democrats early in the legislative session passed a measure to offer districts relief.
As part of a series in The Daily News, Grace Swanson on Wednesday explored how the McCleary plans differ on funding for special education.
Republicans, for example, want to send districts $7,500 more for each student with special needs on top of a basic per-pupil amount. Democrats, meanwhile, want to maintain current funding formulas, with allocations rising with salary increases.
And the Washington Research Council and League of Education Voters released updated comparisons of how each McCleary plan will affect everything from taxes and class sizes to teacher salaries and school accountability.
Next week, the Legislature faces a Wednesday deadline to clear any bills out of their houses of origin in order to be considered in the opposite chamber.
And some, including Austin Jenkins with the Northwest News Network, say a final, bipartisan solution to McCleary is still months away.