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House bill would help school districts in timber counties

February 12th, 2014 - 5:32am

(Olympia) Some underfunded school districts in Washington could get a boost out of legislation making its way through Olympia this session.

"Timber communities have a much lower property tax value. You know, the value is when you cut the trees and sell them. That land, the property taxes for them is very, very low," said State Representative Kathy Haigh - (D).

There is a significant problem facing Washington's already ailing timber communities: Their tax base to support public schools can't compete with cities where brick-and-mortar businesses kick in for property taxes. They're supposed to benefit from proceeds of federal timber sales in their districts to help make up for the shortfall, but for three decades now, the state has reduced its allocation to those districts by just the amount paid by the feds. is from one of those logging areas and she's pushing legislation to make the state ignore the federal dollars when sending money out to school districts. It could pump a little over eight million extra dollars out to cash-starved districts in 2014.

"It's money that the schools deserve, they should have been getting it all along, and it's time to get back on track and have those federal forest lands help pay for our public education," said Haigh.

Haigh, a Shelton Democrat, is a veterinarian and former school director who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

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