Two-year budget adds to education without raising taxes

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a budget bill Friday that, for a change, had no tax increases, deep cuts in spending or elimination of tax breaks.

The legislation, which enjoyed overwhelming support in the House and Senate, will add about $155 million in new spending to the two-year state operating budget approved last year.

It puts $58 million more into basic education of public school students, freezes college tuition for a second straight year and pumps $30 million into scholarship programs.

There’s an infusion of $20.3 million for community mental health programs and money to give thousands of child care workers a raise.

Though the budget is balanced and has an ample reserve for rainy days, the spending bill didn’t inject as much money into public schools as the governor desired and the Supreme Court is demanding.

He said lawmakers needed to make more progress toward complying with the court’s McCleary decision requiring the state to fully fund basic education for elementary and secondary students.

Now the Legislature will need to come up with at least $1.5 billion more for public schools in the next budget to stay on course with meeting the court’s 2018 deadline for compliance.

“It’s going to take some very, very difficult work,” he said.

Also absent from the budget bill was money to provide teachers a cost-of-living increase or its workers a pay raise — which Inslee and most Democrats in the House and Senate wanted.

Those too are going to need to be addressed next year, he said.

“Some people have characterized the budget as sustainable. But the state’s fiscal situation is not as rosy as that outlook suggests,” he said. “We have a huge budget problem to address next session.”

The chief Republican budget writer in the Senate agreed there are “challenges going forward.”

But state Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, said the governor complicated matters by vetoing a proviso in the budget to transfer $20 million into the public schools account from the Life Sciences Discovery Fund.

Shifting those dollars would have helped deal with the McCleary obligation, said Hill, who is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Moreover, he said, the veto won’t sit well with some lawmakers who know the difficult negotiations to strike a deal with the House that wound up winning the support of 48 of the 49 senators.

“We gave him everything he asked for and he came back and dropped this bomb on us,” Hill said of the governor.

It may make chilly relations with the Republican-controlled Senate Majority Coalition caucus a little chillier when it comes to budget negotiations next year.

“It is going to be hard to do our work next year,” Hill said. “We’ll always be looking over our shoulder.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

911 received multiple calls reporting a fire at Marie Anne Terrace apartments early Monday morning, Feb. 6, 2023 in Everett, Washington. There were no injuries or fatalities. (Everett Fire Department)
Fire damages Everett apartments, displaces 10

The fire at the Marie Anne Terrace apartments Monday night displaced four families and caused extensive property damage.

A rack with cards bettors can use to choose their own numbers to purchase lottery ticket on a counter at a market. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Been to Auburn lately? That’s where $754M Powerball ticket was sold

This is only the second time a Powerball jackpot has been won in Washington.

Granite Falls
Man shot near Granite Falls; assailants at large

Two suspects fled after shooting a 33-year-old man in a motorhome Tuesday morning, according to police.

Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

Community Transit is leasing a 60-foot articulated BYD battery electric bus this year as an early step in the zero emission planning process. (Community Transit)
Community Transit testing 60-foot electric bus

The agency leased the BYD K11M for $132,000 this year as the first step in its zero-emission planning process.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Democratic Latinos form a caucus, hospital staffing bill clears a hurdle

It’s Day 31. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

Two guests stop to take in a large-scale painting by artist Iryna Kalyuzhna during a public event highlighting the For Ukraine: Art of Freedom exhibit at the Schack Art Center on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Ukrainian art in Everett showcases grief, hope in war-torn nation

“For Ukraine: Art of Freedom” at the Schack Center aims to remind Americans of the war and raise money for maternity hospitals.

Most Read