By Randi Becker
I want to take this opportunity to share with you some thoughts on education funding and the local levy proposed by the Eatonville School District.
This past year, the Legislature met its constitutional duty to fully fund basic education. I know you keep hearing a lot about this issue, but you might not know exactly what is included.
The funding the state provides to schools from the operating budget pays for teacher salaries, transportation, supplies, special education and other services that provide the foundation for our educational system. It now amounts to more than 50 percent of our state’s budget.
You might think that is the complete package, but it isn’t. The money to pay for music, physical education, sports, and support staff such as nurses and
counselors – all the things that make our kids well-rounded enough to face their future -- is not included in that state funding. They are outside the scope of what the state constitution considers “basic,” and the money to pay for them comes from local levies.
To pay for the new education plan, we leveled out the state property tax so that everyone will pay the same rate statewide. Some will pay more, but three out of four people will pay less. In fact, by 2019, everyone in the Second Legislative District will see their state property tax drop. This leaves you room to consider the additional expense of the local levy your school district needs to provide Eatonville’s kids with the complete package.
I’m proud of what the Legislature has accomplished in education. In the five years my caucus controlled the Senate, we added over $7 billion to school funding and made it the top priority it should be. But I assure you it wasn’t without strings attached, such as goals in reading, writing, math and other skills. Our effort wasn’t just about funding. It was also about reforming.
Eatonville School District has a 97 percent graduation rate – far above the national average. Don’t lose the ground you’ve gained with good teachers, good school boards and a good education that prepare our kids for success anywhere in the world. I strongly urge you to consider passing the local levy requested by the Eatonville School District.

Randi Becker is the state senator from the Second Legislative District, which includes the Eatonville area and other parts of south Pierce County.