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Washington voters pass $1.7 billion in taxes for education

More than 50 local school boards put their school’s funding into the hands of the voters during last Tuesday’s election and voters responded with overwhelming support. Voters approved all but one local levy across the state, committing $1.7 billion in taxes to their schools.

“Voters passed these taxes because they know the money is going directly to helping kids,” said Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters. “Voters stepped up for their local schools, and it’s time we stepped up for schools across the state.”

Although a frequent theme of last year’s governor’s race and this year’s legislative session is that voters will not support revenue to pay for education, local election results stand in stark contrast to that narrative.

In many districts, local levies make up 25 percent or more of the total operating costs of their schools. These local dollars often pay for necessary school costs like staff salaries, textbooks, or a sixth period in school—a far cry from the “extras” they were originally intended to provide.

In January 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in McCleary v. Washington that the state was not meeting its constitutionally mandated duty to fully fund basic education. The court ordered the Legislature to overhaul how education is funded in the state by 2018.

Update: Election results finalized Feb. 26 show that two levies, not one, failed to pass in their districts, resulting in a 96 percent levy passage rate overall. In addition to the Battle Ground Maintenance and Operations Levy, the La Center Capital Levy did not pass. School boards across the state requested $1.8 billion in local levies and local voters granted $1.7 billion.

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