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The 11th Hour 

State lawmakers finally agree to a budget; plus, donations wanted for homeless youth

click to enlarge The Washington Legislature avoided a budget disaster.
  • The Washington Legislature avoided a budget disaster.

SHUTDOWN AVERTED

Last week, it looked like Washington could be headed for a government shutdown, with lawmakers unable to reach an agreement on how to FUND EDUCATION. At the last minute, however, the Washington State Legislature came through.

A budget deal signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday adds $7.3 billion in state funding to schools over the next four years. "I am proud to sign a historic budget that fully funds our schools for the first time in more than 30 years," Inslee said in a statement.

The legislature was tasked with providing ample funding education as mandated by the McCleary court ruling. That meant ensuring school districts could no longer rely on local property tax levies to pay employee salaries and basic expenses.

The budget addresses that with a plan hatched by Senate Republicans: hiking state property taxes while capping local property tax levies. That plan makes up most of the new revenue from the state. Additional revenue is raised by expanding an online sales tax and eliminating tax breaks on bottled water and extracted fuels — ideas favored by Democrats.

The result is a shift from local funding to state funding. The $7.4 billion in state funds added in the next four years is offset by about $3 billion lost in local levy funds.

"This budget, at long last, meets our constitutional obligations to fully fund basic education, and addresses the responsibilities we have under the McCleary decision to equitably fund our schools," Inslee said.

Others aren't as enthusiastic. Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal offered a modest endorsement of the deal, saying the legislature has "now made the important turn to go beyond the bare minimums called for by the state Supreme Court." The Washington Education Association — the state's largest teachers union — said in a statement that the budget was "progress," but falls short of fulfilling the McCleary mandate. (WILSON CRISCIONE)

MOVE-IN READY

As Spokane and partner agencies work to find housing for 100 HOMELESS YOUTH in 100 days, they're collecting donations for move-in kits during the final stretch of the challenge, which ends July 31.

For the kits, they're looking for things that someone might need if they're getting their first apartment or going off to college.

Some of the new/unused things they hope to collect include: toilet paper, plungers, cleaning supplies, soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower curtain and rings, plates, cups, silverware, pots and pans, can openers, hangers, single-sized bedsheets, pillows, laundry baskets, towels, basic food staples, and things like books.

"When my kids get keys, it's a monumental day," says Mary Stanton, the Education, Employment and Housing Youth Representative from Career Path Services, in a news release about the drive. "But the excitement quickly dissipates when they have no fork to eat with or no towel to dry off with. That's why this drive is so important."

Drop-off locations include: City Hall, Downtown Spokane Partnership, the Downtown Public Library, Shadle Library, Fire Station #1, Mobius, Volunteers of America, SNAP, Excelsior Youth Center, Salvation Army, Providence Health Care Foundation, United Way of Spokane, Next Generation Zone, WorkSource Spokane, Care Path Services, Spokane Housing Authority, Hayden Homes, Inspirus Credit Union, Numerica Credit Union downtown branch, STA Plaza Customer Service, Radio Spokane and KPBX-FM. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)

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