Victories for school funding
Coming up this week – take action now!
Policy committee cutoff is next Wednesday so legislators are taking final action on many bills this week. If you’re on the WEA Advocacy text list you’ve seen several urgent action requests – we’re at make-or-break time for session.
- The bill that exempts disclosure of personal information of state employees who are survivors of violence, assault, or harassment (HB 1533) was scheduled for exec in the Senate Committee on State Government & Elections this morning (Friday), but the committee didn’t vote. We need an extra push to get this one out of committee - let your Senators know that we need to pass this bill to protect survivors.
- Increased funding for Special Education (SB 5311) passed in House Education on Monday and is now on to Appropriations. It increases funding for supports for students with disabilities and we continue to work to further increase the funding. Email your Representatives now!
- Free school meals for K-12 students (HB 1238) is scheduled for a hearing in Senate Ways & Means on Tuesday. It would provide free meals to about 600,000 of our state’s 1,000,000 K-12 students. Sign in pro.
- The House budget is anticipated for release on Monday with a hearing in House Appropriations on Monday at 4. WEA President Larry Delaney will testify about funding to support student success.
If you’re interested in testifying on these bills, please contact WEA Political Organizer Hillary Hunt.
Washington State Supreme Court upholds capital gains tax
Our students need more funding for supports and learning and now our state’s Supreme Court has cleared the way to begin increasing the available revenue for schools. The court upheld the Capital Gains Tax that will bring in an additional $500 million each year in revenue and begin to fix our upside-down tax code by making the rich pay more of their fair share.
Senate budget proposal supports students and schools
Our students deserve the freedom to learn and succeed in well-staffed, high quality, equitably funded schools. The Senate’s proposed budget places a strong emphasis on funding public schools, delivering some of the legislature’s most significant investment levels in public education. The proposed budget for 2023-25 includes notable increases in special education, pupil transportation, higher education COLAs, and K-12 educator compensation.
The Senate budget makes the highest level of investment in special education funding that we have seen this year - with $372 million added in 2023-25 biennium. While this may not be enough to close the entire funding gap within special education, it is a significant investment by the state and one that we support. Additionally, while it funds COLAs for community and technical colleges, the budget gets us just part way to what we need to support higher ed.
The Senate budget failed to phase in regionalization and experience mix changes from the salary rebase analysis. This will be a challenge for districts that are managing these changes at the same time as flat or declining enrollments and the end of federal pandemic funding. This is an acute problem in certain districts that we will continue to raise as a concern.
The House is expected to release its budget next week, after which time House and Senate conference to negotiate over differences and arrive at a conference budget, which will come to the chamber floors for a vote in April.
US House of Representatives Passes Bill Attacking Public Education
Every child deserves the freedom to learn about the past and present experiences of the diverse communities. It’s unacceptable that today the US House passed HR 5, a bill that will increase book bans and undermine local control and educator autonomy in schools while doing nothing to promote authentic, constructive parent involvement in schools. Senate leadership have said they will not take up the bill, rendering it dead, but this vote was a clear display of the anti-public-education majority in the US House. Read more about HR 5.
Updates on major bills
What’s scheduled for a policy committee vote
- The bill providing privileged protection to communications between employees and their unions (HB 1187) is scheduled for executive action in Senate Committee on Law & Justice on Tuesday.
- HB 1200 to ensure public employers share basic employee contact information with unions is scheduled for executive action in Senate Labor and Commerce on Monday.
- The bill setting policies for school library programs (SSB 5102) is scheduled for executive action in the House Committee on Education on Monday or Tuesday.
- The bill creating oversight and accountability for charter schools (ESHB 1744) is scheduled for exec on Monday in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education.
- The bill enhancing media literacy and digital citizenship in schools (SSB 5626) is scheduled for exec session in House Education on Monday and Tuesday.
- Senators made amendments to the Transitional Kindergarten bill (HB 1550) that reflected educators’ concerns and the bill is now a promising way forward for early learning. It is scheduled for exec in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education on Monday.
What awaits fiscal committee or floor action
- The bill preventing musculoskeletal injuries and disorders (ESSB 5217) that would allow L&I to adopt ergonomic rules awaits action in House Appropriations.
- Increasing access to PEBB retiree benefits for Plan 2 members (HB 1008) awaits a Senate floor vote.
What passed on the 2nd chamber floor
- The bill establishing minimum employment requirements for paraeducators (HB 1015) passed on the Senate floor on Wednesday and now awaits concurrence from the House.
- SB 5257 ensuring a minimum of 30 minutes of recess for elementary students and prohibiting the use of physical movement as punishment passed on the House floor Monday and now awaits concurrence in the Senate.
- Universal screening for highly capable students (SB 5072) passed the House on Wednesday and now awaits Senate concurrence.
WEA members who testified this week
Larry Delaney (WEA President) on the Senate budget proposal; Eryn Duffee (Edmonds EA) on teacher librarians; Holly Koon (Mount Baker EA) on regionalization & experience mix changes; Benjamin Kort (Evergreen EA) on teacher librarians; Nick Perigo (Bellingham EA) on regionalization & experience mix changes; Keith Swanson (Walla Walla EA) on regionalization & experience mix changes
If you provided testimony before the legislature, we’d like to do a shout-out about you! Please contact WEA Political Organizer Hillary Hunt.