SENATE BILL REPORT

SJR 8201

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As of January 31, 2019

Brief Description: Amending the Constitution to allow a simple majority of voters voting to authorize school district bonds.

Sponsors: Senators Wellman, Carlyle, Cleveland, Conway, Dhingra, Palumbo, Pedersen, Hunt, Wilson, C., Keiser, Kuderer, Saldaña, Takko and Van De Wege; by request of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Brief History:

Committee Activity: Early Learning & K-12 Education: 2/06/19.

Brief Summary of Joint Resolution

  • Proposes a constitutional amendment to allow school districts to issue general obligation bonds for capital purposes, levy taxes to make payments on those bonds, and exceed the constitutional debt limit with majority voter approval.

SENATE COMMITTEE ON EARLY LEARNING & K-12 EDUCATION

Staff: Alex Fairfortune (786-7416)

Background: General Obligation Bonds. The board of directors of a school district may borrow money and issue bonds for any capital purpose. The amount that may be borrowed is limited by the state Constitution and state statutes.

School districts may exceed the constitutional debt limit for construction of 1.5 percent of the assessed value of property in the district, up to 5 percent indebtedness, with approval of at least 60 percent of the voters at an election where the total number of voters is at least 40 percent of the total at the last preceding general election. State statute imposes a lower threshold of 0.375 percent indebtedness, but allows districts to exceed this threshold to a total indebtedness of 2.5 percent with the approval of at least 60 percent of the voters voting.

Maintenance and Operation Levies and Capital Levies. Under constitutional restrictions on property taxes, school districts may collect property tax revenues in excess of 1 percent of the assessed value of property in the district for the maintenance and operation of common schools, or the construction, modernization, or remodeling of school facilities. In 2007, the voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing school districts to levy this additional tax by a simple majority of the voters voting at an election for that purpose.

Bond Levies. School districts may also levy taxes above the 1 percent limit to make required payments of principal and interest on bonds issued for capital purposes if approved by at least 60 percent of the voters at an election where the total number of voters is at least 40 percent of the total at the last preceding general election.

Constitutional Amendment. A proposed amendment to the state Constitution must be approved by two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the Legislature, and then approved by a majority of the voters in the next general election.

Summary of Joint Resolution: A proposed constitutional amendment is submitted to the voters at the 2019 general election to allow school districts to issue general obligation bonds for capital purposes, levy taxes to make payments on those bonds, and exceed the constitutional debt limit with majority voter approval.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Not requested.

Creates Committee/Commission/Task Force that includes Legislative members: No.

Effective Date: Ninety days after adjournment of session in which bill is passed.