What's the latest from the Legislature?
Did you hear about that lawsuit over schools?
Our editors have an eye on Olympia. Our monthly Watch column brings you updates on votes and rulings that affect local families.
Read on for the latest!
Vote on Nov. 2
Time’s running out to vote! Ballots for the Nov. 2 election must be postmarked by Nov. 2. Among the items on the ballot are Initiatives 1105 and 1107, which would close state liquor stores and allow liquor sales in grocery stores and other retailers; races for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state legislative districts; and a $48.2 million Seattle Public Schools operations levy.
Windfall for schools?
An unexpected infusion of federal dollars — including funds earmarked for public schools — could help to staunch state red ink, officials say. President Barack Obama signed a bill last month that sends a total of $26 billion to the states, including about $543 million tagged for Washington. Of that, about $205 million could go to public schools — and that money wasn’t expected. State budget experts, who are grappling with a $3 billion budget shortfall, are hoping to avoid across-the-board cuts. They’re waiting to see if the state has discretion over how that money is spent, or if it must go straight to schools.
Academic testing grant
State officials are hoping to land a federal grant to create a new testing system for high school students, based on new national academic standards in language arts and math. Washington is submitting a grant application on behalf of a 31-state coalition called the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is calling for online testing of students at least twice a year to track progress. The new testing would begin in the 2014–15 school year; read more at k12.wa.us/SMARTER.
Washington state Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have joined a group of West Coast senators in introducing a bill that would permanently ban offshore drilling in all federal waters off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. A 20-year ban on drilling off our coast was allowed to expire in 2008 by former President George W. Bush. Murray and others worry that stormy weather — and the possibility of seismic activity — could cause another oil disaster if drilling is allowed. Link to more on this story at parentmap.com/more.
A new state tax on candy and gum takes effect this month, but good luck with guessing what will actually be taxed! Starting June 1, a new sales tax on candy kicks in, but not all sweets are considered candy by the state Department of Revenue. For instance, Snickers is a candy — but a Twix bar is not. Anything that contains flour or needs to be refrigerated is probably not taxed. The tax is expected to raise more than $30 million.