For more complete coverage of WEA in Olympia check out the Our Voice blog.
March 31, 2017
Shawn Lewis – Update from Olympia
On Friday, the state House passed a very strong education budget that makes a down payment to fully fund education. The plan significantly increases salaries for both teachers and education support professionals over the next three years, explained Shawn Lewis, WEA governmental relations director. The plan also maintains public employee bargaining rights and local levy capacity.
Next week, the House will consider a series of revenue proposals that would pay for the additional investments in education by increasing taxes on wealthy individuals and companies. The proposed progressive tax changes include creating a capital gains tax on the sale of investments and reforming the business and occupation tax, as well as the real estate excise tax so large corporations pay their fair share.
The Senate passed a capital budget that provides for an additional $1.1 billion in new school construction for K-12, and an additional $700 million for higher education.
The paraprofessional training bill appears likely headed for passage and provides the necessary funding for para professional development. WEA ESP members have been working with the lobby team all session to pass the bill.
The Republican Senate has introduced a new Freedom Foundation-backed bill that would allow districts who collect dues through payroll to charge up to a 5 percent administrative fee. For state agencies, the fee collection would fund the PERC. WEA opposes this bill.
Washington Education Association news release, 3/27/17
Contact: Rich Wood, 253-376-1007
WEA supports state House budget, encourages representatives to oppose the Senate plan
Washington Education Association President Kim Mead will testify in support of the Democratic House state budget plan today.
She said the House budget makes a significant investment toward keeping the McCleary promise to our children, including competitive, professional base pay for teachers and education support staff.
Under the state Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary order, the state must fully fund K-12 basic education by Sept. 1, 2018.
“Unlike the Senate GOP budget, the House budget puts families first by protecting social and health services and other important programs,” Mead said. “The House budget plan also recognizes the crucial need for progressive new revenue sources.”
Mead encouraged House members to stand strong against the Senate Republican budget.
“As you begin budget negotiations with Senate Republicans, our students and educators are counting on you to stay true to your Democratic values,” she said. “Continue fighting for policies and funding that put our families first. Stay strong. Don’t back down.”
The Washington Education Association has 92,000 members, including K-12 certificated educators, education support professionals and higher education faculty members.