Update to Side-by-Side Comparison of McCleary Education Funding Taskforce Proposals

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The Senate and House came to an agreement on how to move forward in fulfilling their constitutional responsibility to fully fund education.  The Legislature delivered Senate Bill 6195 (Rivers R-18, Rolfes D-23) to Gov. Inslee, which he signed into law on February 29.  SB 6195 is the Legislature’s attempt to comply with the most recent order by the State Supreme Court in which the court found the Legislature in contempt for inadequate progress in funding basic education and complying with the McCleary decision.  The Court levied a fine of $100,000 per day on the Legislature until there is a solution.

Learn about the process going forward and what the legislation does and doesn’t do.

For all the bills proposed this session, check out our 2016 Bill Tracker.

Side-by-side comparisons of legislation proposed in the Washington state 2016 session

What to expect this 2016 Legislative Session

By Jene Jones, Government Relations

Jene Jones

There is general bi-partisan agreement on 2 things: 60 days to adjournment, in order to raise money and campaign for elections starting on day 61, and there will be budget adjustments for wildfire costs last summer and some caseload increases for social services this year. Beyond that, priorities differ.

The Senate is coming out strong saying there will be a Charter patch that funds the existing Charter schools which converted to ALE, Private, and Homeschool models mid this year, in order for them to continue to serve students who started in those schools in the fall. The family voice has been loud; students have been telling their stories of how their learning needs are being met, they feel like they belong, have choice, and are succeeding at their public Charter schools.

There is a McCleary bill that will obligate the state to fully take on compensation for staff at the state level by the end of the 2017 session. In order to show progress toward the court deadlines, the bill will probably pass this session. The funding for this however, is not a part of the prescribed plan. With 60% of voters telling the legislature they want 2/3 votes in both the House and the Senate to raise taxes through Eyman’s initiative 1366 which passed in November, even in the Legislative districts of 20 Democrat members in the House, tax increases for McCleary will be a tough vote to bring to the floor. In addition, if lawmakers do nothing with I-1366 (asking for a 2/3rds vote in House & Senate to raise taxes), starting on April 15, 2016 sales tax will lower by 1%, and the state will lose a billion dollars every year to the general fund, which funds education. (I-1366 is being legally challenged.) As perspective: The transportation package which passed last year did not have 2/3 vote in the House. 2/3rds votes are hard in a legislature with: 73 Rs, 73 Ds, and one D that caucuses with the Rs.

Policy for education will include other robust discussions in 2016: 1. Individualizing student pathways and addressing the Skills Gap through Career Tech coursework in Junior High and High Schools, and 2. Assessment and if it should remain linked to graduation requirements (HB 2214). For schools: How do you use the assessment results to meet the learning needs of your students, and assure all graduates are career/college ready?

Let’s focus 2016 on students. Student needs. Student outcomes. Student choice.

The 2014 Legislative Session

The 2014 legislative session may have been short, but there were significant policy accomplishments in improving public education in Washington state. These accomplishments expand access to financial aid for higher education for all Washington students, pave the way for all students to graduate from high school ready for college or career, and make steps toward reducing the opportunity and achievement gaps. Read More

A multifaceted approach yields a strong step forward in closing the opportunity and achievement gaps

By Beth Richer, League of Education Voters Government Relations

Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI. Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI.
Governor Jay Inslee signs the Dream Act (Real Hope Act). Photo by the Seattle PI.

Within any given legislative session there are victories, defeats, and measures left in a state of limbo. The 2014 session was no different. But amidst those victories, defeats, and states of limbo, there was an underlying theme for much of the education legislation related to the opportunity gap. Legislators, advocacy organizations, teachers, parents, students, and business leaders alike all said loud and clear: “We must take action to close the gaps and address our most underserved students.” Read More

The 2013 legislative session: It’s a wrap

In what has become unfortunately common in Washington, the 2013 legislative session went into overtime. An agreement on a two-year budget was reached with less than 24 hours to spare to avoid a shutdown of state government. While significant hurdles remain as we strive to ensure our public education system is amply, equitably and sustainably funded, measurable progress was made during the extended 2013 session.

The legislature and the Governor were faced with competing requirements and political trends. Our state’s constitution required increased investment in K-12 education. And while I-1053 was ultimately ruled unconstitutional, the voters of Washington state have consistently sent a strong message that any tax increases must have 2/3 majority support in the legislature. The legislators were charged with increasing investment in K12, without broad based revenue increases, and avoiding cuts to other areas of education or essential social services.

On that score you have to say the session was a mild success. As a state, we expanded investment in early learning, brought a modicum of stability to the Working Connections Child Care program, increased investment in K-12 with an intense focus on the opportunity gap, and stopped the crippling cuts to higher education. We did all of this without cannibalizing essential social services. While it took longer than was needed, the outcome reflected the values of the voters who sent the legislators to Olympia to represent them.

In addition to the budget items, significant bipartisan efforts on education policy were passed (See LEV 2013 legislative accomplishments). Legislation related to addressing customer service issues in child care, supports for persistently failing schools, literacy, STEM education, gathering and reporting of discipline data, and assessment reforms all passed with significant bipartisan support.

As we move forward, LEV will continue to work with parents, members of both parties, and members of the education community to address the continuing challenge of providing ample, equitable and stable funding and ensuring those dollars are invested effectively to ensure that every student in Washington state receives an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success.

Governor Inslee signs two early learning bills

Great news for Washington’s littlest learners; Governor Inslee has signed HB 1723 and SB 5595 into law! Here are some of the changes you can expect:

Under HB 1723

Under SB 5595

  • DEL/The Department of Social and Health Services will provide improved consumer service, meaning they will return all phone calls within 2 business days, develop a process to submit forms online, notify parents and child care providers 10 days before loss of WCCC benefits, and provide consumers with a document that is easy to understand regarding what services they are eligibile for, etc.
  • Creates a task force comprised of legislators, representatives from various early learning stakeholder groups, and child care providers. The task force will develop recommendations for creating a tiered-reimbursement model for WCCC and a mixed delivery system for ECEAP.
  • DEL/DSHS must work to design a more flexible subsidy system that accounts for small fluctuations in family circumstances, ensure that minor changes in parent’s work schedule(s) don’t interfere with their WCCC authorization, enable parents who participate in 110 hours of work or related activities to be eligible for full-time child care services, and simplify the requirement to count child support as income.

* This is void if not funded by 6/1/13.

Governor Inslee signs House Bill No. 1723 Relating to expanding and streamlining early learning services and programs.
Governor Inslee signs House Bill No. 1723
Relating to expanding and streamlining early learning services and programs.
Governor Inslee signs Senate Bill No. 5595 Relating to child care reform.
Governor Inslee signs Senate Bill No. 5595 Relating to child care reform.

Governor signs bill to help turnaround schools

“Our kids can’t wait for schools to improve. They need high-quality schools now.”

This is a favorite mantra of LEV’s CEO Chris Korsmo, who is known for her impatient optimism.

Community leaders and legislators agreed that it was time for our state to do something about persistently low-achieving schools. The time for hoping the problem would get better was over.

Today Governor Inslee signed SB 5329, which gives the state a larger role in school accountability and turnaround efforts. The legislation calls on the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to design, a statewide system of support, assistance, and intervention for persistently low-achieving schools.

The legislation implements the second level of an accountability system created in 2010 to assist the ten most persistently lowest-achieving schools in Washington to become more accountable. School performance is based on the Achievement Index, a State Board of Education-developed accountability framework.

Thanks to SB 5329, persistently low achieving schools will receive additional support from OSPI to implement a three-year required action plan. OSPI will develop the action plan criteria and the corresponding system of supports for each level of challenged schools. If schools do not improve in three years, OSPI, working with local districts, will require additional actions to increase student achievement.

LEV worked with our partners Stand for Children and Partnership for Learning and a bi-partisan team of legislators in both chambers to develop the legislation.

Sine Die 2013

On Sunday, April 28th around 6:00 p.m. the gavel fell and the 105 day regular session was brought to a close. Almost as swiftly as the 2013 regular session ended, Gov. Inslee called for a special session to begin on Monday, May 13th in order to focus on three main issues:
1. An operating budget that makes a substantial down payment on education, but not on the backs of seniors or the poor;
2. A transportation plan that preserves funding for existing infrastructure projects and funds new projects; and
3. Important education policy measures to ensure that new education funding will achieve results.

LEV walked into the 2013 session with three priorities:

Work with the legislature to ensure the McCleary decision to fund basic education is upheld and utilized well.

LEV has advocated before and during the 2013 session that it is time to amply fund education and look towards new avenues for revenue in this state. As the operating budget continues to be crafted and debated we will be steadfast in our support of a system that fully pays for education, but not by cannibalizing vulnerable populations.

Prioritize the investments and funding in education that have been made to Washington’s students and have been proven effective.

LEV, along with our coalition partners, brought to the table vital legislation addressing accountability and access from early learning through higher education. So far we have had significant progress in:

  •         Early learning through SB 5595 and HB 1723
  •         Assisting persistently low achieving schools to be more accountable through SB 5329
  •         Alternative assessments for teacher certification HB1178
  •         Support for programs that close the opportunity gap, such as academic acceleration through HB 1642

Minimize the negative impact of discipline policies on students.

As a brand new issue, brought forward from the community, discussions around the discipline policies in our schools have come leaps and bounds. From an issue that was barely spoken of last session to now a rallying point for many legislators eager to end racial disparities and close the opportunity gap, there is still much work to be done this year and in future years. The bills tied to this issue have been labeled NTIB (necessary to implement the budget) and will be negotiated out during the special session.

The mini-interim between now and May 13th will send legislators back to their home districts for a few weeks. As LEV continues to advocate for the policy bills and budgets still in the works, this is your opportunity to connect with your individual legislators to remind them the impacts their choices make on you, your children, and your community. Look for more updates on budget progress and key policy bills, as well as how you can stay involved as the 30-day special session kicks off.

How a bill becomes a law

The clouds have grayed, there’s a chill in the air, and you’ve started layering like nobody’s business. This can only mean one thing: The 2013 Legislative Session is underway! It’s that special time of year when bills are introduced, caucuses are formed, and laws are made (or not). It is true democracy in action!

But how does a bill become a law, anyway?

  • First, a legislator from the House or the Senate offers a bill. Legislators begin working on the idea and language for bills before the session begins. Bills can start being dropped into the hopper (submitted) as soon as the legislative session begins in January and have until Cutoff Day to be dropped. Similar bills can be introduced in both the House and the Senate.
  • After a bill is introduced, it is decided which committee should hear the bill. Once in committee, it has its first reading. The chair of the committee decides if and when a bill will be allowed a public hearing. The public hearing is where members of the public can express their support for or opposition to a bill to committee members. The committee chair also decides if the bill will be read in Executive Session and put to a vote in the committee. If the votes are in the bill’s favor, it goes to the Rules Committee, where leadership decides if a bill meets the legal criteria to move on in the process.
  • If all goes well in the Rules Committee, the bill goes to the floor for a roll call vote.
  • Depending on which chamber the bill originated from (the House or the Senate) it is then sent to the other chamber and must go through the process again. If the House or the Senate want to tweak the bill, it is first sent to a conference committee and then back to the House or Senate to have amendments approved.
  • If the majority of legislators vote in favor of the bill, it is sent to the governor’s office to be signed. The governor may decide to sign the bill, veto sections of it, or veto the bill all together.
  • Once the governor signs the bill, it becomes a law.

It is important to note that although this is the ideal procedure for a bill to become a law, there are many exceptions and paths a bill can take along the way. Some alternate routes include rewriting the bill and attaching to a separate bill as an amendment or “carryover” which allows the issue to be taken up again in a subsequent session.