The Legisletter: News From Olympia
It’s time for the State Legislature to head back to Olympia on Monday, Jan. 13, to begin their “short” 60-day session!
And it’s time for us to lobby for the bills we want them to pass, which are:
Restore the COLA. As you know, in 2000 voters approved Initiative 732, an initiative that awards teachers, education support professionals, community and technical college faculty, and technical college classified staff with cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs). However, due to the Great Recession, the Legislature has not funded them since 2008, instead choosing to suspend COLAs to balance the state budget during tough economic times. If the Legislature fails to restore the educator COLA this session, education employees will go a sixth year without it. Washington’s education employees lost around 16 percent in buying power during that time by going without COLAs.
Now the economy is improving and we’ve done our part to help the state budget. The McCleary Supreme Court decision requires the state to fully fund education, which includes adequate compensation. Restoring the COLA is the right thing to do.
On the first day of session in Olympia, nearly 100 education members from WEA and AFT Washington will be asking legislators from both parties to sign on as a co-sponsor to restore COLAs. Our goal is to get 51 sponsors in the state House. We’ll be posting updates on our Facebook and Twitter feed so you can see our progress. #COLA14
Pass HB 1348, which will allow colleges to bargain local funds to keep their contractual obligations for step increases. With greater reliance on local funds (tuition, parking revenues, international students, etc.), it is unreasonable for our colleges to expect only the Legislature to fund step increases. The percentage of funding that comes from local funds has risen to more than 50% in 21 of the 34 community and technical colleges. HB 1348 will create a shared responsibility between the state and colleges, while recruiting and retaining the best faculty to serve our students.
Be sure to stay tuned for legislative updates throughout the session.
To see our complete legislative agenda, visit our website at http://wa.aft.org/legislation/2014-aft-washington-legislative-priorities.