Democrats call, again, for action on ‘levy cliff’

Some school districts may have to send out pink slips if the state legislature doesn’t pass the Democrats’ “levy cliff” bill, argued Democratic leadership at their weekly press conference Tuesday.

“I’m hearing from superintendents too,” said Rep. Kristine Lytton, Anacortes, at the press conference. “They are trying to dig into the complexity of the senate plan and are still struggling with trying to understand it. So yes, they want us to solve the McCleary problem. But what their immediate need is for us to pass the levy cliff bill so they can move forward in the process and they’ll continue to work with us on whatever plans we come up with.”

Democrats and Republicans are back-and-forth over the levy cliff as it relates to funding education. Republicans argue passing the bill would further stall fully funding state education, but Democrats say it’s critical to reassure schools now that they will have a set budget, by re-upping on levies for one more year.

“We can pass the bill and take this uncertainty off the table for our schools and our kids,” said Sen. Sharon Nelson, Maury Island at the conference. “And it is frustrating when I keep hearing ‘Well not to worry…’ Let’s take it off the table – take away this uncertainty for our parents our kids and our teachers – and then negotiate the McCleary plan, and have the time to do it over the next month and a half to two months.”

Some school districts have a budget deadline coming up on Feb. 28, and may need to plan for the worse without the levy cliff bill, argued Rep. Pat Sullivan, Covington.

“We already know most school districts will be affected because they’re already in their budgeting process,” he said at the press conference. “So they’re trying to figure out how much revenue or how much dollars will be available from the state.”

They also said that Republicans haven’t come to the table enough, that Democrats have repeatedly invited Republicans to discuss proposals, but that the GOP hasn’t showed up.

Sullivan said funding education was urgent.

“This is too important to get caught up in this theater,” he said at the conference.  “I mean, the fact is: We need to sit down and actually negotiate a compromise.”

Erin Fenner: erin@washingtonstatewire.com, @erinfenner

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