Governor Jay Inslee unveiled his proposed supplemental spending plan for 2014 on Tuesday, specifically highlighting prisons, education and technology upgrades.
This is the first time in six years the state legislature won’t start the next session with a budget shortfall. Instead, the Governor proposed increasing the $33.6 billion state budget by about about $200 million. Governor Inslee referred to his proposal as a, “hold steady budget in a get ready year.”
The good news, he pointed out, is that our state’s economy is slowly and steadily improving. But slow and steady, the Governor says, is not enough to keep pace with rising mandatory costs for state services.
“We have yet to regain the jobs even today that we have lost in the great recession, and revenue collections have not yet returned to pre-recession levels,” Governor Inslee told reporters. “So, holding steady this year will allow us to prepare for next year when the situation and the task before us will be greater.”
The Governor was critical of the budget passed earlier this year that included $1 billion for education in order to meet the McCleary requirements laid out by Washington’s Supreme Court. He believes it includes short-term fixes that are not sustainable, and leaves holes the legislature will have to fill next session. Governor Inslee hinted that the next budget negotiations will have to include serious discussions on closing tax exemptions in order to generate the almost $5 billion his office says is needed for education in the next few years.
Immediately following the Governor’s news conference Republican Senator Andy Hill responded by saying, “In a lot of ways, raising taxes is the lazy way out.”
Here are some of the proposed spending ideas included in the Governor’s budget:
- $11 million to cover wildfire costs
- $7 million to address prison capacity
- $8 million for a legal settlement to provide more mental health services for children
- $10 million for a collectively bargained rate increase for childcare providers
- $13 million for critical information technology upgrades
The supplemental budget highlights are online.
You can also watch the Governor’s press conference on TVW’s website.