At last, some positive news related to the economic forecast in our state. In this Seattle Times article we learn that the new governor will start his tenure with a growing budget.
A forecast released this week said state revenue will grow by about 3.5 percent per year for the two-year cycle beginning July 2013. But many of those gains will be consumed by other growth in state government, such as the resumption of cost-of-living adjustments for teachers, medical-care cost increases and general growth in reliance on state services.
Like most budget news there is the good, more revenue and the bad, higher projected expenditures. The bad is part of an estimate from the Office of Financial Management that maintenance level spending growth is expected to be about 7.9% over this two year period leading Governor Gregoire’s budget director to estimate a relatively flat budget process. On the plus side, our teachers should be pleased to see that someone is at least talking about restoring cost-of-living adjustments in this 7.9% estimate.
So, my question is the same as it was before I saw this update. Where will the two governor candidates find the $1 billion they say they will put into this budget for education? By making these announcements as the article suggests they have removed this item as a topic of discussion in this campaign.
It's not part of the discussion in the governor race. Democratic candidate Jay Inslee said the state can fulfill education-funding obligations by growing the economy, making government more efficient and curbing health-care costs. Rob McKenna makes similar arguments, adding that he'd like to shrink state government through attrition and a levy swap proposal to make education funding more consistent.
Can they do it without raising taxes? Others in state government suggest that it is not possible. If we later find out it is not possible without raising taxes which of the two candidates will then move off of the pledge to not raise taxes and keep the pledge to put 1 billion additional dollars into public education? Now, that might be the candidate to support. Would either make this move?