July 1, 2015
For immediate release
AFT WASHINGTON STATEMENT ON 2015-2017 STATE OPERATING BUDGET
AFT Washington applauds Governor Inslee and the House and Senate for passing a compromise 2015-2017 budget that supports education employees. The budget provides a 4.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment over two years for education employees covered by voter-approved Initiative 732. This not only covers K-12 teachers but also community and technical college (CTC) faculty, technical college classified employees, and K-12 school support staff.
In addition to COLAs, community and technical college faculty won what other educators have always had - the right to bargain local resources for increments during the 2015-2017 fiscal biennium. Local dollars are defined as funding colleges receive that are not allocated by the state, such as student tuition and fees.
This sets the stage for narrowing the 20% salary gap between CTC faculty in Washington and other states, but it is a short-term fix for a bigger problem. State law prohibits bargaining for local funds for salary increases (RCW 28B.52.035). Unless the law changes, access to local funds will expire in 2017. We will continue to work with legislators and stakeholders to further narrow the gap, as this budget begins to do.
This budget also makes strides on meeting our McCleary obligations but doesn’t go far enough, ignoring the will of the voters by delaying Initiative 1351. The Legislature still has work to do to ensure smaller class sizes for all our K-12 students, not just kindergarten through third grade.
And there is still work to do with regard to Washington State’s revenue crisis. We must do better when it comes to finding new revenue sources, including a continued dialogue around implementing a capital gains tax. Without new ideas, we cannot break free from our most regressive tax system in the country. AFT Washington hopes that the revenue compromises in this budget will lead to even greater successes on this front in the future.
Public education has been starved for years and reinvestment is essential in order to have an educated, skilled workforce and strong economy. This budget is a step in the right direction.
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AFT Washington, AFL-CIO, represents education employees in early learning and Head Start, community and technical college faculty, classified, and professional staff, and K-12 school support employees. AFT Washington is a state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers which represents 1.8 million members nationwide.