By law, the governor of Washington State is required to put forward a budget that accomplishes its aims through existing revenue sources. So, in one of her last acts as governor, Chris Gregoire did just that today. Her legally-required, no-new-revenue budget would, among other things:
- Eliminate the state's program for providing food assistance to vulnerable citizens.
- Drop $100 million from levy-equalization spending that benefits rural school districts.
- Slash $52 million more from state colleges and universities.
But, she also put forward a separate budget proposal that includes new revenue.
This more humane budget would avoid the cuts mentioned above by extending an inpatient hospital fee that generates higher Medicaid matching funds (netting the state $276 million) and repealing a tax exemption that benefits oil refiners (netting the state $63 million).
In addition, Gregoire is proposing making a $1 billion down payment toward our state supreme court-mandated investments in our failing public school system by instituting a tax on wholesale fuel (which would raise $367 million for education over the next two years) and extending current surcharges on beer and B&O taxes that were meant to be temporary (which would raise $636 million for education over the next two years).
Incoming-governor Jay Inslee has promised not to raise taxes, and he is free to either run with Gregoire's proposals or come forward with his own. But the Washington State Budget & Policy Center has called Gregoire's more humane budget proposal "a step in the right direction" and is declaring: "Governor-elect Inslee should follow Governor Gregoire’s example and offer a budget with revenue to move our state’s economy forward."