Senate budget plan fully funds education, cuts property taxes in Whatcom County

  • Senate approach to basic education cuts taxes statewide.
  • Everyone would pay same property tax rate for basic education programs.
  • Means big tax reductions for Whatcom County homeowners.

OLYMPIA – Every homeowner in Whatcom County would see a tax cut under a budget plan released Tuesday by the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, said Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.

The $43 billion budget proposal provides full state funding for basic education and reforms the school-levy system at the same time. Everyone in Washington would pay the same property tax rate for schools, for the first time in state history.

That means the vast majority of Washington homeowners would see tax cuts of several hundred dollars. The Senate reform plan also would eliminate what amounts to a tax break for property owners in the state’s wealthiest school districts.

“By fixing the school-funding issue, we find a way to bring tax relief to 83 percent of the state,” Ericksen said. “It’s a big win for the working families of my district.”

Under the Senate plan, the school tax rate would be $1.55 for every $1,000 of valuation by the time the program is fully implemented in 2018-19. Right now, every school district in Whatcom County levies more than $1.55, meaning every property owner will save. Current tax rates and eventual savings are:

  • Bellingham School District, $2.64 tax rate for 2016, savings to average homeowner $293.
  • Blaine School District, $1.83 tax rate, $39 savings.
  • Ferndale, $4.05 tax rate, $538 savings.
  • Lynden, $2.74 tax rate, $280 savings.
  • Meridian, $3.82 tax rate, $578 savings.
  • Baker, $3.66, $291 savings.
  • Nooksack Valley, $4.15 tax rate, $465 savings.

Currently the average tax rate statewide is $2.54. Originally the Senate proposed reducing taxes to a flat $1.80, but it cut the rate still further when a forecast last week projected that the state would collect a half-billion dollars more in taxes than previously expected.

“Our economy is strong because we have resisted every attempt to raise taxes over the last four years, and when we see windfalls like these, it makes a case for tax relief,” Ericksen said. “We’re not giving money back to the taxpayers – we’re letting them keep what is rightfully theirs.”