Property tax increase at center of state budget plan to fund education
State lawmakers say they finally have a budget deal, but it comes with a property tax increase.
But as of Friday morning, they were still reviewing the plan that would spend about $44 billion over the next two years.
Governor Jay Inslee has until midnight Friday to sign the budget to avoid a partial government shutdown.
The bipartisan budget agreement that has taken months to reach to address a court mandate on education funding looks at a mix of resources: An increase to the statewide property tax earmarked for education, a new requirement for all online retailers to collect sales tax and the closure of a few tax exemptions.
The details on the long-awaited plan were released in bits and pieces Thursday, a day after legislative leaders announced they had reached a deal.
The funding for schools, which lawmakers say spends $7.3 billion over four years, also keeps in place local property tax levies but caps them at a lower level.
The four-year proposal includes increases to the state contribution to teacher salaries and specifies a minimum annual wage of $40,000 for beginning educators. The minimum wages could be adjusted supplemental contracts.
Local districts would also have to get state approval for special levies to supplement funding for enhancements.
The education funding comes from an internet sales tax and a property tax increase. That increase is 81 cents per thousand dollars of valuation.
For the average home in Seattle, the property tax increases could amount to about $400 a year.
The internet sales tax hopes to collect $1 billion over the next four years.
The new state budget also closes tax loopholes, including those on bottled water and another that benefited the oil industry.
The new education funding plan is designed to satisfy a Washington state Supreme Court ruling, known as the McCleary decision, that said lawmakers violated the state Constitution by not providing enough money for students.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.