The Washington State House of Representatives, on Monday, Jan. 23, passed a bill putting off the so-called “levy cliff” for one year, allowing school districts to continue their reliance on locally approved and raised tax funding while the Legislature sorts out state funding of basic education.
The bill passed the House 62-35 in a morning roll-call vote.
In 2010, as the education lawsuit McCleary v. Washington was still making its way through the court system, the Legislature passed legislation temporarily raising the amount local school districts could raise from their tax base as a percentage of their operating budget. The temporary “levy lid lift,” as it was called, was set to last through the end of 2017.
If a version of Monday’s House bill passes the Republican-controlled state Senate, it will extend that deadline — the “levy cliff” — through the end of 2018, past the deadline the State Supreme Court has set for the Legislature to sort out the education budget.
Any extension of the “levy cliff” could come as a source of temporary relief to local school districts. On Jan. 11, board members of Seattle Public Schools authorized $63 million in potential cuts to the district’s 2017-2018 operating budget. The district faces a possible $74 million deficit next school year. About $30 million was attributable to reduced tax collections at the point of the “levy cliff,” with another $44 million attributable to compensation increases agreed to under collective bargaining negotiations conducted under the assumption of the state’s responsibility for paying staff salaries.
City Living Seattle has reached out to Seattle Public Schools for a statement.