wea-ew exec bd 11.04.09 010WEA-Eastern members,

Yesterday the State House released their budget proposal for the 2011-2013 fiscal years, and it’s pretty much as bad as we thought it would be.  Notable cuts (with amounts) to K-12 include:

 

  • Suspending I-728 class size reduction money:  $861 million dollars

  • Suspending the I-732 cost of living allowance:  $270 million dollars
  • Eliminating K-4 class size reduction money:  $171 million dollars
  • Freezing the salary schedule:  $56.4 million dollars.  The way that the bill is written any years of experience or credits/degrees earned after October 1, 2010 will not count.  If you just got your Masters degree, or enough credits to move over a column, you lose out.
  • Assessment changes:  $49.7 million dollars.  This is actually a good cut—taking away the high-stakes nature of the high school math and science assessments saves teachers time and students their dignity.

The House budget also sets aside $250,000 for another study of how to change our health insurance.  You may have received a phone call or mailing regarding this; we’ll get more details to you as soon as they’re available.

There are a few elements of good news. The Capital Budget, which also came out yesterday, provides full funding for school construction matching dollars, which means that construction projects in Cheney, Wellpinit, and Spokane can go forward as planned.  Levy Equalization was left completely untouched, a positive change from the Governor’s proposed budget that means an awful lot to all of us in Eastern Washington.  The Governor had also proposed a technical change to how school bus depreciation is figured that the House has not embraced, which is another positive that we hope stays around.  There’s still funding for all-day Kindergarten, including a $6.4 million dollar increase.

The worst of the cuts, though, will be borne by our members in Higher Education as the near-complete slashing of state support continues. For the 4-year colleges the cuts are between 17.5% and 21%, with the expectation that they can get back some of that lost state support through 11.5% tuition increases in each of the next two years.  Community colleges are given the authority to raise their tuition 11% each year, which is cold comfort in light of the unbelievable $150,000,000 in cuts they’ll be facing the next two years. Plus, higher ed employees will all get to pay 25% more for their health insurance.

More information about how we respond will be coming out soon.  The next shoe to drop is the Senate version of the budget, which rumor says they have mostly finished.  Then the wrangling begins to see if the legislature will actually be able to adjourn by Easter Sunday, or if a special session is required.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 326-4046 or email ryanandpaula@juno.com.

Thank you!

--Ryan--