Today, Governor Inslee released his 2018 Supplemental Budget Proposal. The Governor recommends an increase of $950 million for the 2018-19 school year to fully fund K-12 staff salaries a year earlier than the education funding plan passed during the 2017 legislative session. The Governor’s proposal would comply with the recent Washington State Supreme Court order that the state must fully fund basic education by the 2018-19 school year.
The proposed budget includes a provision (Page 227) to ensure that no school district would receive less combined state and local funding in the 2018-19 school year or after than they would have under the state and local funding laws prior to the 2017 legislative session. This is intended to ensure that when combining state and local funding levels no district will be worse off in the future with the newly passed funding plan than under previous law. It is unclear how many districts would qualify for this hold harmless provision and what the actual costs may be.
The budget also includes an additional $20 million in special education safety net funding to help reimburse school districts for high-cost special education services. There is an additional $17.5 million allocated to provide more guidance counselors in middle school to support district implementation of the High School & Beyond Plan in 7th and 8th grade.
Governor Inslee also released his 2018 Supplemental Capital Budget Proposal which includes $1 billion for the School Construction Assistance Program. This state-funded program helps districts with the cost of modernizing and constructing schools by sharing the costs of construction between school districts and the state. The capital budget also included grants to help build early learning facilities ($15.5 million), STEM classrooms ($13 million), and modernize small rural school districts ($35 million).
The additional investments in education will be funded through higher than expected revenue collections by the state and a transfer of funds from the Budget Stabilization Account (Rainy Day Fund). This would reduce budget reserves to 4.8% of the general fund expenditures according to current revenue projections.