Apr 29, 2009

special session coming; 3,000 to 5,000 layoffs possible

Governor Gregoire's going to call a special session to deal, among other things, with the prospect of massive education layoffs.
Gov. Chris Gregoire wants state lawmakers to return to Olympia for one day to pass bills they dropped when they adjourned in the wee hours Monday morning....

[Speaker of the House Frank] Chopp, a Seattle Democrat, said he’s open to a special session that gets loose ends tied up quickly. He indicated there are just a couple bills that need to be done, including one on deporting immigrant criminal offenders that could save $8 million a year and – more important – a bill on school levies....

The bill would let districts collect the full measure of school levies already approved by voters, but most districts cannot collect more than 24 percent of their operating revenue from levies.

The bill raises it to 28 percent temporarily, allowing $68.6 million more to be collected locally. Olympia would collect $3.3 million, North Thurston $2.1 million and Tumwater $890,000.
The bill's potential to stanch the bleeding has kept several districts from initiating their RIFs. And if the bill fails?
The state Superintendent of Public Instruction's office thinks 3,000 to 5,000 teachers could lose their jobs. The Washington Education Association (WEA), the state teachers union, predicts 6,000 in public schools and higher education could be notified of layoffs.

"It is going to be very tough," said WEA spokesman David Phelps, calling it the worst teacher cutback in the state in 30 years.
David Phelps, Undersecretary of Understatement.

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