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Published on Friday, March 10, 2017

One piece of McCleary education funding fix now in place

As legislators keep communicating, one of the primary issues this session will be resolving the McCleary funding issue. The state operating budget proposal expected shortly after the revenue forecast later this week will begin the negotiations on education funding and the requirements of compliance with the court’s 2012 ruling.

Last week, the Senate and House passed one related piece ESB 5023, the levy cliff bill. It provides local school districts additional authority for local levies to avoid limitations that would otherwise have gone into effect later this year.

During the recession, in an effort to lessen the impacts on school budgets, the Legislature gave local school districts additional authority to raise local levies to help make up for state funding shortfalls. This additional flexibility was set to expire later this year. Without this legislation, school districts would have faced a combined $358 million revenue decrease from the levy authority reduction.

The bill also requires school districts to report the programs and activities that will be funded through the proposed levy beginning in 2018 to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to ensure maintenance and operation (M&O) levies are not used for basic education programs. OSPI must approve the report before a ballot proposition can be submitted for voter approval.

Categories: Budget & finance