Lawmakers debate whether to spare school districts from ‘levy cliff’ — and possible budget cuts
School district officials have long questioned whether Washington lawmakers can fix the unconstitutional way the state pays for schools by April, when the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn.
It turns out, some Democratic lawmakers are doubtful, too. That’s why they say the Legislature needs to act quickly to prevent devastating cuts to school district budgets and widespread teacher layoffs.
Democrats in Olympia want the Legislature to delay a planned cut to school districts’ local taxing authority, which threatens to reduce school districts’ budgets by millions of dollars in the 2017-18 school year if a new state funding plan isn’t worked out.
Starting in January 2018, school districts throughout the state stand to lose about $358 million per year if the Legislature doesn’t postpone changes to how much they can collect in local property taxes, according to estimates by legislative staff.