If there were ever a poster child for our public schools' failure to educate our students, it's Sammamish High School graduate Rob McKenna and his embarrassing inability to do basic math.
First, McKenna's dyscalculia was on display on August 16, when he told the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that "nominally," "on average," "the state budget has doubled about every 10 years." A figure he apparently pulled right out of his ass.
In fact, over the past 10 bienniums—from 1993 through the projected end of the current budgeting biennium in 2013—the state budget grew from $32.8 billion to $74 billion, about half as fast as McKenna implies (when accounting for compounding).
But as McKenna acknowledges, this is only a "nominal" increase because it's largely due to population growth plus inflation—not gratuitous spending—and as we all know from recent budgets, the increase isn't even enough to maintain government services at a constant level. Yet McKenna went on to talk about the many new programs he would fund with all this supposedly excess, actually nonexistent "new money."
Previously, McKenna had used his June 8 gubernatorial campaign kickoff speech to decry a supposed 5 percent annual increase in total state spending per employee "every single year for 10 years." But when the Associated Press asked the Republican gubernatorial wannabe to show his work, his math was wrong. McKenna had done simple division when the math problem was slightly more complicated. It involves compound increases—you know, high-school-level stuff, the kind of math that anyone who wants to run a big old state and its complicated budget should be able to do. The actual annual increase in total state spending per employee: 3.5 percent a year, right in line with the private sector.
During the same June 8 speech, McKenna proposed $5.8 billion in new spending (a doubling of higher-education spending and a 25 percent increase for K–12) offset by less than $800 million in proposed savings from employee givebacks and attrition.
$5.8 billion - $800 million = $0?
It just doesn't add up.
McKenna is running as a budget hawk, arguing that we simply can't afford four more years of Democratic rule. But the bigger question for voters is whether we can afford a governor who clearly can't do simple math.