The biggest McCleary news this week: Seattle teachers decided against a one-day strike over school funding, and a union-coordinated Twitter campaign reminds lawmakers they’ve racked up $60 million in fines.
The biggest McCleary news this week: Seattle teachers decided against a one-day strike.
The city’s teachers union last held a walkout in 2015 to pressure state lawmakers over school funding. But even as the Legislature approaches yet another budget stalemate in Olympia, union members over the weekend rejected a proposed one-day strike on May 1 to once again call for a fully funded K-12 system.
Some members who voted no questioned the effectiveness of such a protest and the disruption it would cause for students and families.
Instead, the union hopes to see at least 300 people, including teachers and parents, show up at the Capitol every day during the first two weeks of May to keep watch on lawmakers crafting a final fix to the Supreme Court’s landmark McCleary decision.
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Here’s a roundup of the McCleary action over the past week:
The News Tribune late Friday reported that the GOP-led Senate’s proposed 2017-19 budget wouldn’t add as much new money into K-12 schools as it might seem.
The plan calls for a $1.8 billion boost in state education spending but does so by swapping what’s currently raised through local-school district levels with a new statewide property tax.
GOP leaders haven’t produced an estimate of the exact net increase to the state’s education system but acknowledge their plan “would add significantly less than $1.8 billion.”
Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget office projected the net increase would only be about $871 million. The Democrat-controlled House, in contrast, has proposed adding $2.2 billion to the K-12 budget.
Also over the weekend, The Seattle Times teamed up with public-radio Northwest News Network to try to pull back the curtain on the backroom negotiations and lobbying that eventually will produce a McCleary solution.
Their effort was stymied, however, by both Democratic and Republican legislative leaders refusing to release basic records, including their calendars and emails related to the state’s budget and school finance issues.
Those records may have shown who the lawmakers are hearing from and what they’re thinking during the ongoing debate over how to fully fund Washington’s public schools.
On Tuesday, a House committee voted along party lines to advance a $3 billion tax package that Democrats unveiled last week as part of their 2017-19 proposed budget.
Their revenue plan would impose new and higher taxes on the wealthy and some businesses. Republicans criticized the tax package as unnecessary, arguing the state’s surging economy will fill state coffers with billions of additional dollars, according to The (Everett) Herald.
Not long after the committee vote, nearly 600 accounts on Twitter simultaneously posted a message reminding lawmakers that they’ve racked up $60 million in contempt fines for not meeting a court order to fully fund basic education in Washington.
The campaign, which the Washington Education Association organized, reached almost 295,000 people on social media.
Next week, the Legislature faces an April 12 cutoff to consider bills from the opposite chamber, although any budget-related legislation can survive until the last day of the regular session.
That’s just 16 days away.
But in a Thursday news conference, Inslee said it’s not uncommon for lawmakers to avoid making “tough decisions” until closer to a government shutdown at the end of June when the current budget ends.