Falling off the Levy Cliff

Public schools will be facing a decrease in $480 million in 2018 due to the expiration of increased levy funding that was allowed when the state was dealing with the recession – this is called the Levy Cliff.  By failing to act this session, the Legislature will let districts fall off the cliff this time next year as they start budgeting for 2017-18. 

According to some Senators, we have seen this cliff coming for years, and since the legislature did not take action to transition earlier (today we could have been facing a “levy step” instead of a “levy cliff”) we need to bear the consequences instead of easing the burden. The consequences for North Kitsap will be a reduction in revenue of $3.87 million dollars in 2018 – and given that 85% of the budget is for staff falling off the cliff could mean staff reductions in 2017-18 school year. 

Related comments were made regarding the will of the legislature to actually take action in a timely manner in 2017 (of which there is no evidence in past practice that this will actually happen). This sentiment echoed testimony on HB 2698 from Monday (2/22) in the Senate by Dan Grimm representing OSPI who stated in no uncertain terms that the only way real action will occur is if real pain (through crisis) is felt in local school districts. If you are interested in hearing some insight into some Senators’ viewpoints on this topic, check out the hearing on 2/22 (skip ahead to 41:18 – 1:18:21) and debate on the Senate Floor on 2/26 (skip ahead to 3:43:14 – 4:05:00). The sense is that districts need to have the problem resolved by April 2017, however this is much too late for many (most) districts. Click here to learn how districts will be impacted.