Measure to ease the burden of expensive unfunded state mandates passes House

20th District lawmakers sponsor bill to help free up more money for local schools and public safety

Legislation aimed at easing the burden of unfunded mandates hampering school districts and local governments passed the House by a vote of 97-2. House Bill 3182, as originally drafted, would have made all unfunded mandates on schools and local governments optional. But the bill was amended to allow limited relief on a few specific mandates.

Reps. Gary Alexander and Richard DeBolt, sponsors of House Bill 3182, said they were prompted to introduce the bill after being informed by local school superintendents that Toledo School District spends $664,000 and Centralia School District spends nearly $1.5 million each year on unfunded mandates. Cities and counties incur similar costs.

“Unfunded mandates are strangling school districts at a time when schools are struggling to pay for the basic educational needs of its students,” said DeBolt, R-Chehalis. “We have spent a lot of time talking about how to get more money to schools when we can free up more existing money by alleviating the costly burden of state mandates. This legislation provides a small amount of relief by easing school districts’ truancy obligations, which has been just one of the financial burdens on school districts.”

“Local governments are struggling to provide basic services to citizens, then you add unfunded mandates to the mix and their budget crisis becomes even more critical,” said Alexander-R, Olympia. “Public safety should be the priority. Instead local government is hampered by a variety of expensive mandates being handed down by the state ranging from growth management to global warming planning.

“We would like a broader repeal of state mandates, and we would like the Legislature to review them over the next two years to determine which are truly necessary. This bill got narrowed more than we had hoped, but at least we’ve begun the discussion with the expectation of providing more relief to schools and local government down the road,” Alexander said.

House Bill 3182 would streamline and eliminate a number of reporting requirements for schools and local government. It would also ease mandates for cities and counties that require them to dispose of surplus properties, regardless of value, and report on multi-family property tax exemptions.

The bill now must be approved by the Senate. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn March 11.



Contact: Lisa Fenton, Communications Director: (360) 786-7728


Washington State House Republican Communications