Senate approves Education Equality Act levy-cliff fix

Late Wednesday evening, the Senate approved Senate Bill 5023, to address the so-called ‘levy cliff”, as part of a comprehensive solution to Washington’s education system. The Senate majority whip, Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, made the following statement following the near-unanimous vote.

“I am pleased that we have been able to find a strong, bipartisan solution to this particular part of our state’s education-funding problems. On February 1, the Senate approved the One Washington – Education Equality Act, which included a provision to extend levying capacity for local school districts. Tonight, we made sure that kicking the can down the road isn’t an option. The ‘levy cliff’ bill as adopted contained the provisions from our comprehensive education plan that provides more accountability for how local dollars are spent.

“Part of our reform is that starting in 2018, school districts must keep state and local funds in separate accounts, and future levy requests must be submitted to our state’s superintendent of public instruction to be sure local funds are not being used for basic education.

“I am hopeful that these efforts will keep our state on the right path. Since the Majority Coalition Caucus formed, we have made education the state’s priority again, investing more than $4.5 billion over the past few years. We recognized that the levy cliff is important for our local schools, but we needed to ensure that we were not going to put our kids in jeopardy in the long term.

“The levy cliff is just part of the problem and I am committed to the comprehensive approach in the Education Equality Act that drives more dollars to students and reduces reliance on local levies – the core of the McCleary case.”