Washington’s Supreme Court decided in McCleary v. State in 2012 that the state falls short of its paramount constitutional duty to fund children’s education. The Court requires full funding by 2018 and interim progress reports. This September the Court held the legislature in contempt for inadequate progress. So McCleary will overshadow the 2015 legislative session. Representative Ross Hunter has proposed a partial solution: a complicated reallocation of property tax funds between the state’s portion and the local portion (see http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/roster/rep-ross-hunter/the-levy-swap/). If adopted, property taxes from wealthier counties would likely increase somewhat; taxes in less wealthy counties would likely decrease. Legislators will keep looking at other ways to raise taxes, too. To help taxpayers accept probable increases, Senator John Braun’s latest proposal for tax appeal reform may show more promise of passing. Many tax practitioners see his newest proposal for a judicial-branch system as a considerable improvement over the current system.
Date: December 1, 2014
American Property Tax Counsel