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- Frockt and retiring Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, proposing not allowing a beer tax, a hospital tax and a 0.3 percent business and and occupation service surcharge — all due to sunset soon — to expire. Also $125 million worth of tax exemptions would be closed. And another $125 million in rainy day funds would be tapped in fiscal 2014 and another $150 million in fiscal 2015. No rainy day fund raiding would occur after that.
This proposal also calls for $300 million of education transportation costs to be shifted to the state's transportation budget — forcing the Senate and House's transportation committees to deal with that issue. Plus the proposal calls for $150 million to be trimmed in administrative costs.
This translates to covering $1.157 billion in 2014 and $1.197 billion in 2015, or $2.354 billion for the upcoming budget biennium. Estimates for subsequent years are roughly the same.
- Frockt and Brown offering a second similar proposal with a couple of differences. This proposal does not transfer $300 million to the transportation budget. Meanwhile, it proposes temporarily increasing the state sales tax from 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent — raising $209 million in 2014 and more in subsequent years — until a new tax can be studied and implemented. Frockt speculated that a capital gains tax could be considered as the permanent measure.
This would translate to covering $1.066 billion in 2014 and $1.139 billion in 2015, or $2.205 billion in the upcoming budget biennium. The amounts would be a bit less in subsequent years.
- Sullivan proposing a similar plan.The differences would be putting in $300 million in reductions elswhere in the state's budget,, closing $200 million worth of tax exemptions, finding $100 million in savings due to implementing Obamacare, and transferring up to $450 million annually in education transportation obligations to the transportation budget.
This would translate to covering $2.153 billion in 2013-2015.
Task force member Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island and a member of the Senate's transportation committee, was concerned about shifting education transportation matters to the transportation budget. This would be an accounting maneuver that would merely force that committee to make cuts or raise extra revenue in transportation matters, she said.
"I hate to use (the non-education transportation budget) as a straw man and play Russian roulette with it," Rolfes said.
In the big picture, the House and Senate financial staffs calculated that the Supreme Court's ruling will require an extra $2.1 billion in cuts and new revenue in 2013-2015, $2.8 billion for 2015-2017, and $2.1 billion for 2017-2019. And those numbers assume absolutely no growth between now and 2019 in all of the state non-education programs.
The 2013-2015 overall state operating budget is predicted to be roughly $33.3 billion with no growth in non-education programs, compared to $31.2 billion — including $13.65 billion for K-12 edcuation — in 2011-2013.
Here is a rundown of the state's goals driven by the Supreme Court's McCleary decision:
- Reducing the Teacher to student ratios in grades K-3, an age in which experts say fundamental learning needs to take place to produce results rippling into the higher grades. Right now the the ratio is 25.23 students per teacher in those grades. The 2011-13 budget calls for reducing that ratio to 24.1-to-1. The McCleary ruling orders that ratio to be reduced to 17 students in grades K-3 by 2017-2018.
- Poverty-level schools getting priority in that class-size reduction, with "poverty" defined as more than 50 percent of a school's students participate in the free or reduced-price lunch program.
- Washington's current minimum number of credits to graduate high school will be gradually increase from 20 to 24. Right now, school districts have different numbers of credits to graduate, with the state average being 22. Increased costs will be tied to what extra courses are added.
- The amount of instruction in grades 7-12 is supposed to reach 1,080 hours a year per student no sooner than 2014-2015. The state Office of Financial Management believes the state average now is roughly 1,000 instructional hours per student per school year.
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