Schools endure state gridlock as lawmakers make budget deal

The Federal Way School Board approved the district’s 2013-14 budget in a unanimous vote on June 25. At the time of the Tuesday meeting, the Washington State Legislature was still feverishly working on a budget deal, but had reportedly resolved its differences with the announcement of a budget deal on June 27.

“We’re going to be talking about the general fund budget when we don’t yet have a state budget,” Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Sally McLean said wryly in her presentation to the board.

One new change that had come because of Olympia’s dysfunction, McLean said, is that the district may be forced to borrow money earlier than expected if the Legislature cannot reach a consensus.

“This district, along with every other district in the state, will be short paid on our June 30 apportionment payment from the state,” McLean said. “I was not planning on that occurring, and that has impacted our ability to make it through July. So if there’s no state budget adopted as of July 1, then there’s no authority for the state to spend funds, and I will tell you now, that while we’re planning on a McCleary downpayment for (2013-14), without a state budget, we will need to borrow money in July to cover our 2012-13 obligations.”

Another impact that the prolonged gridlock in Olympia has had on the budget planning process was increasing the district’s allotment for its “contingency” fund. Traditionally, that amount has been $3 million, but with Olympia’s issues, the district chose to increase it to $5 million.

The doomsday scenario of a government shutdown was avoided, as the Legislature reached a deal a few days short of a full state government shutdown. The details of the budget deal reached were not disclosed by Inslee at a June 27 press conference.

“I’m happy to be here today with legislative leaders, to say that we are happy to report to you that lawmakers have reached agreement on an operating budget for the next biennium,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a brief press conference on June 27. “The deal reached today makes it clear that state government will continue to operate. Government operations will not be interrupted.”


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