The Democratic state supplemental budget proposal that passed the House Thursday afternoon is dramatically different than the Republican budget proposal approved last weekend in the Senate.
Here’s a summary of the major differences between the budgets:
- Democratic House Budget: No funding cuts to K-12 and higher education
- Republican Senate Budget: Cuts K-12 funding by over $132.5 million, including cuts to Readiness to Learn, Running Start and employee pensions. Cuts higher education by $40 million
- Democratic House Budget: Protects school employee pensions
- Republican Senate Budget: Eliminates Plan 2 and early retirement options for new school employees
- Democratic House Budget: Funds educator pension obligations
- Republican Senate Budget: Fails to pay the $130 million payment that is due for the unfunded liability in TRS and PERS Plans 1.
- Democratic House Budget: Does not fund the state takeover of K-12 employees’ health care, which WEA opposes
- Republican Senate Budget: Funds state takeover of K-12 employees’ health care (SB 6442)
- Democratic House Budget: Preserves incentive pay for National Board Certified Teachers
- Republican Senate Budget: Cuts NBCT base incentive pay by 75 percent
During the budget debate in the House, many Republicans criticized a proposal to delay a school apportionment payment by one day – from June 31 to July 1. Yet the shift doesn’t hurt school districts. The state fiscal calendar ends June 31, while the school district fiscal calendar ends Aug. 31.
According to WEA Budget Lobbyist Randy Parr, “The scheduled $340 million June 2013 apportionment payment to school districts is shifted to July 1, 2013 – which is the first day in the next budget period. To mitigate the impact of this fund shift, the new House budget proposes a contingency fund of $10 million that school districts are able to tap in to, should the delayed payments disrupt their cash flow. The proposed House budget also includes a provision that should the June 2013 revenue forecast exceed $30.817 billion that the June apportionment payment will be paid on time during the current two-year spending period.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire has called a special session to start at noon Monday, March 12. Legislators will have to find a way to reconcile the two budgets. Meanwhile, budget-related bills such as the health care takeover, SB 6442, remain alive and revert to their original committees.