The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus budget that is billed as a big new investment in education – without new taxes – apparently is not putting in as much new cash for K-12 public schools as previously thought. Just yesterday Brian Rosenthal of the Seattle Times dug in to some of the numbers and finds that it falls well short of claims to invest $1 billion in new money for schools.
Read the report here, and a takeaway excerpt is here:
The Senate’s two-year budget was advertised as a $1 billion funding increase for schools. But if you add up all of the additional spending and subtract all of the cuts and shifts — including the $72 million hit to career and technical education — the plan comes out to $795 million above what schools would be spending anyway.
And if you consider the Senate — like Inslee and the House — wants to continue to suspend cost-of-living pay raises for teachers, the infusion above the bottom line would be just $499 million.
“It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul,” said Frank Ordway, a lobbyist for the League of Education Voters. “Part of it is just transfers that are called investments.”
Just yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, who leads a Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus, was again touting touted their budget that avoids tax hikes to invest in K-12 schools.
The Times story comes as House Democrats hold an 8 a.m. hearing Friday morning in the Finance Committee to gauge responses to a slew of revenue proposals worth $1.3 billion over two years. That level of tax revenue is roughly what the House Democrats say they are putting into basic education to answer the state Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling on the inadequacy of state funding for public schools.
As we reported Monday there are other concerns with gimmicks in the Senate budget plan that House Democrats claim to avoid. But the House hasn’t showed it can raise the taxes it is proposing – including permanent extension of business-occupation taxes that were adopted in 2010 and are scheduled to expire in June.
The Senate budget, which passed with 30 votes including Democrats leery of some of its elements, proposes to transfer $166 million in school construction money into operations, while issuing bonds to cover the construction needs.
Republican Rep. Gary Alexander of Thurston County, who is the ranking minority on the House budget, opposes most of the Democrats’ revenue ideas (other than a telecommunications tax to answer a Supreme Court ruling) but says he also dislikes the Senate’s use of borrowed money to pay for current school operations.