By Brad Boswell
Washington State’s 105th Legislative Session began and is scheduled to last 105 days (including weekends), concluding on Sunday, April 23, 2017. This legislature will grapple a court-ordered mandate to fully fund basic education. While parts of that mandate have been addressed in recent years, the largest and most difficult issue of fully funding staff compensation related to the provision is front and center this year.
Governor Inslee proposed spending upwards of an additional $3.5 billion on basic education in the coming biennium, proposing more than $4 billion in new taxes to fund it. His tax package includes a significant increase in the B&O tax on services, a new capital gains tax and a $25 per ton carbon tax.
In addition to basic education funding, the legislature is also faced with the need to significantly increase mental health funding with more than $700 million in salary increases for public employees. All of this will undoubtedly lead to major divisions and the need for some kind of special session.