OLYMPIA—The One Washington Education Equality Act, SB 5607, passed the senate tonight by a vote of 25 to 24. Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, hailed the vote as a big win for kids and as welcome property tax relief for residents of the 28th Legislative District.
SB 5607 was unveiled earlier this week by the Republican-led Senate Majority Coalition Caucus as their plan to solve the state’s failure to provide adequate and equitable funding for basic education. The plan creates a statewide per-pupil funding system and establishes a per pupil $12,500 minimum. The act also institutes a $1.80 per $1000 of assessed value local effort levy, which replaces the existing maintenance and operations levies.
“This plan is a great win for kids statewide and it means big savings for taxpayers here,” said O’Ban. “Shouldn’t an education system put student needs first? This plan helps get us there.”
Under the levy reform plan, the average homeowner in University Place would see property tax relief of $818. The average homeowners in the Tacoma, Bethel, Clover Park, and Lakewood districts would save between $461 and $505. The average homeowner in the Steilacoom Historical School District would save $216.
“One thing the McCleary decision made clear is how the legislature failed for 30 years on the issue of equal and full funding for basic education,” O’Ban said. “For the first time in decades, the senate tonight showed how the legislature should govern on this issue.”
SB 5607 increases beginning teacher pay to $45K from $35,700 and provides financial rewards for top teachers. Schools would be expected to meet new standards and those that meet performance objectives would be exempt from most state regulations, however all schools would continue to follow health, safety, and non-discrimination laws.
“Let’s be clear, this is the only plan that has been put forward with an actual funding source,” Oban explained. “The governor and our colleagues across the aisle are floating plans but attaching no means to pay for them. What they want are new taxes, what we offer instead is a solution.”
For more on information on the One Washington Education Equality Act go to www.FullyFundEducation.org.