State Senate Republicans have released new numbers for their proposal to fully fund the state’s K-12 school system. The updates would give many Seattle-area homeowners a big property-tax increase.
OLYMPIA — State Senate Republicans have released revised numbers for their proposal to fully fund the state’s K-12 school system — and they show that many Seattle-area homeowners would see a big property-tax increase.
The average homeowner in the Seattle School District would pay $628 more in property taxes in 2019, according to the revised numbers in the plan.
And in 2021, the new GOP data show the increase to an average Seattle homeowner reaching $686.
The revised numbers come about two weeks after legislative staff discovered problems with the GOP plan. The proposal is one of several circulating around Olympia intended to resolve the state Supreme Court education-funding order known as the McCleary decision.
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Republicans introduced their plan late last month in the Legislature, then gave it a public hearing and passed it off the Senate floor in a matter of days.
The revised numbers correct for “a significant understatement error in the original calculations” on student-enrollment numbers, according to an overview of the revisions.
That factor accounted for most of the difference in the new numbers, said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, the chief GOP budget writer. Braun said the changes are “an improvement” to the original bill and are not unusual in something as complex as education funding.
“You would expect with something that complicated, you’re going to have fine-tuning over time.”
The revisions show big property-tax increases for other Puget Sound school districts, as well.
In 2019, the average homeowner in the Mercer Island School District would see an increase of $1,302 in property taxes — rising to $1,430 in 2021.
In the Lake Washington School District, the average homeowner would see a property-tax hike in 2019 of $576 — rising to $648 in 2021.
The 2019 numbers in the revised GOP plan now match the numbers put out in an analysis earlier this month by the state Office of Financial Management.
The new GOP plan also increases the amount of money that Republicans are seeking from elsewhere in the budget to fund education. The plan now calls for finding $1.7 billion in existing tax revenue over two years to help fund K-12 education, according to Braun. In the original they were seeking $1.4 billion in that time frame.
The GOP proposal — as well as separate plans by Gov. Jay Inslee, Democratic legislative leaders and a handful of Democratic senators — all seek to solve the last big remaining part of the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.
The 2012 court order ruled that the state must fund the salaries of K-12 teachers and other school workers. Much of those costs are now paid through local property-tax levies in local school districts.
The justices ruled that the state is responsible for those salaries as part of providing students a basic education.
Since 2014, the court has held the state in contempt for failing to come up with a full funding plan to resolve the McCleary order.
The GOP proposal is intended to make the tax system more fair through a so-called levy swap in which school districts, like Seattle and Bellevue that have high property values, would send property-tax money to “property-poor” districts.
Inslee and Democrats instead propose raising new taxes on, among other things, capital gains and carbon emissions.
Lawmakers Wednesday passed the Democratic plan off the House floor — but without the specifics on how to pay for it.