Washington’s teachers union has been hinting for months that, with Democrats now firmly in charge of all three branches of state government, a raid on the public coffers would be forthcoming.
And if anything, the final product it now wants to foist on taxpayers is more expensive, less sustainable and less necessary than advertised.
A package of legislation was introduced as desired by the Washington Education Association (WEA) that would – once again – Increase property tax levies.
Senate Bill 5316. Sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), who received $101,317 worth of WEA support during her successful 2016 bid to unseat former Republican Sen. Steve Litzow.
Senate Bill 5313. Requested by the Governor’s Office of Financial Management to implement his budget. Governor Inslee was aided in his initial election with $1.7 million in financial support from the teachers union.
Senate Bill 5466. Requested by Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, who also received nearly $100,000 of campaign support from WEA in 2016.
Remember, the Legislature recently adopted a “McCleary fix” that:
- increased allocation for teacher salary from $55,705 to $65,216 for 2018-19, according to section 503 of the state budget for 2017-19;
- increased state property taxes by roughly $0.94 per $1,000 of property value to provide funds for this increase (further explained here);
- decreased school property tax levies to no more than $1.50 per $1,000 of property value beginning Jan. 1, 2019; and,
- prohibited the use of lower local “enrichment levies” for general teacher salary effective Sept. 1, 2019. Only wage enhancements for employees’ documented responsibilities, duties or time are allowed.
The increase in state property taxes and decrease in local levy taxes was sold as a way to return responsibility to the state for paying teacher salaries. This solution would also, we were told, level the playing field for basic education spending across wealthy and poor areas of the state.
The union executives did not want to relinquish the power to negotiate levy-funded salary increases, so they orchestrated illegal strikes and insisted districts spend more on salary than the state provided.
Consequently, many districts are now poised on the brink of financial disaster as their payroll obligations are unsustainable.
What’s the union’s preferred solution when the union bullies school boards into illegal pay raises that far exceed the state provision?
Make taxpayers pay, of course. Twice (state property tax increase and a local levy increase).
Breaking this story on Kirby Wilber’s KVI radio show January 17th at the 19:00 mark.