Like so many budget gimmicks from Olympia, it’s complicated.
In school districts around the state, Washingtonians have voted to increase property taxes through local levies in order to invest in schools in their communities. Under McKenna’s proposal, the legislature would raise state property taxes uniformly across the state, then redistribute that new money to local school districts on a per capita basis while simultaneously lowering the local school district levies. All school districts would see the same amount of money going to their schools.
The levy swap would effectively redirect some local school funding through Olympia, and it would raise taxes for many Washingtonians. Currently the state’s property tax is collected and administered by County Treasurers and Local Governments, but according to the Associated Press, the property tax swap would shift some property taxes from local levies to a statewide tax.
Every school district will be impacted by this Olympia power-grab, and more than 100 school districts will see their property taxes increase. Senator Joe Zarelli wrote that taxpayers in 139 school districts were estimated to pay more in property taxes. For example, according to an analysis by the Levy & Local Effort Assistance Working Group, Seattle School District property taxes could increase 20%, and Bellevue could increase 22%.
Wrong. These communities would see tax increases but wouldn’t get any new money for their schools. A Seattle area Representative noted that a property tax swap proposal “calls for a $200M tax increase for Seattle taxpayers with a mere $60M coming back to Seattle schools with no commensurate public policy benefits, flexibility or support.”
Email Rob McKenna and ask him.