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Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Washington State House of Representatives sends revised “levy cliff” rescue bill to Inslee

Leg­is­la­tion that would res­cue school dis­tricts in Wash­ing­ton State from the so-called “levy cliff” is on its way to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee fol­low­ing an over­whelm­ing vote of approval in the Wash­ing­ton State House of Representatives.

By a vote of eighty-sev­en to ten, the House vot­ed to give its assent to Engrossed Sen­ate Bill 5023, orig­i­nal­ly spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Lisa Well­man (D‑41st Dis­trict: Mer­cer Island, Belle­vue, Sam­mamish, Issaquah). ESB 5023 cleared the Sen­ate last night in a near unan­i­mous vote after dif­fi­cult nego­ti­a­tions between Sen­ate Repub­li­cans and Sen­ate Democ­rats were suc­cess­ful­ly concluded.

The Sen­ate offi­cial­ly sum­ma­rized the bill as follows:

  • Delays for one year changes to the for­mu­las for cal­cu­lat­ing school dis­trict max­i­mum main­te­nance and oper­a­tion levy author­i­ty, and cor­re­spond­ing local effort assistance.
  • Requires local levy rev­enue to be deposit­ed in to a sep­a­rate sub-fund begin­ning in cal­en­dar year 2018.
  • Pro­vides that the Office of the Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion must approve the use of main­te­nance and oper­a­tion levy pro­ceeds pri­or to a levy propo­si­tion election.

The House­’s offi­cial sum­ma­ry was a bit more detailed:

  • Delays for one year changes to the for­mu­las for cal­cu­lat­ing school dis­tricts’ max­i­mum main­te­nance and oper­a­tion levy author­i­ty, and cor­re­spond­ing local effort assistance.
  • Requires dis­tricts to sub­mit a report to the Office of the Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion detail­ing the pro­grams and activ­i­ties to be sup­port­ed by a main­te­nance and oper­a­tion levy, pri­or to sub­mit­tal to the vot­ers for approval.
  • Declares that enrich­ment beyond the state-pro­vid­ed fund­ing in the omnibus appro­pri­a­tions act for the basic edu­ca­tion pro­gram com­po­nents under basic edu­ca­tion fund­ing statute s is a per­mit­ted use of main­te­nance and oper­a­tion levies.
  • Requires school dis­tricts to estab­lish a sep­a­rate sub-fund for levy revenues.

ESB 5023 is sim­i­lar to HB 1059, which the House passed back in Jan­u­ary, but which has lan­guished in the Sen­ate ever since. ESB 5023 was passed with­out hear­ings in either house, although HB 1059 received a hear­ing on Jan­u­ary 11th.

The roll call was as follows:

Roll Call
ESB 5023
Schools/excess levies
Final Passage

Yeas: 87, Nays: 10, Excused: 1

Vot­ing Yea: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Apple­ton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Buys, Caldier, Chap­man, Clib­born, Cody, DeBolt, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Far­rell, Fey, Fitzgib­bon, Frame, Good­man, Graves, Gregerson, Grif­fey, Haler, Hansen, Har­grove, Harmsworth, Har­ris, Hayes, Holy, Hud­gins, Irwin, Jenkin, Jink­ins, Kagi, Kil­duff, Kir­by, Klip­pert, Klo­ba, Koster, Kraft, Kretz, Lovick, Lyt­ton, MacEwen, Macri, Man­weller, May­cum­ber, McBride, McCabe, McDon­ald, Mor­ris, Muri, Nealey, Orms­by, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pel­lic­ciot­ti, Peter­son, Pet­ti­grew, Pol­let, Reeves, Ric­cel­li, Robin­son, Rodne, Ryu, San­tos, Sawyer, Sells, Senn, Slat­ter, Smith, Springer, Stam­baugh, Stan­ford, Steele, Stokes­bary, Stonier, Sul­li­van, Tar­leton, Tharinger, Van Wer­ven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, J., Wilcox, Wylie, Young, Chopp

Vot­ing Nay: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Chan­dler, Con­dot­ta, Dye, Kris­tiansen, McCaslin, Orcutt, Pike, Schmick, Shea, Taylor

Excused: Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Johnson

Democ­rats vot­ed unan­i­mous­ly in sup­port of the bill and were joined by thir­ty-sev­en Repub­li­cans. Ten Repub­li­cans refused to lend their support.

Gov­er­nor Inslee is expect­ed to sign ESB 5023 in due course.

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