Education a focus of governor’s budget proposal

Including maintenance level spending, Gov. Inslee’s 2015-17 budget proposal would increase near general fund-state plus opportunity pathways (NGFS+) spending by $5.2 billion over 2013-15. Inslee’s proposal, although it would increase taxes, notes, “Given the size of the budget shortfall heading into the 2015–17 biennium, some spending cuts are necessary.” (To the tune of $211 million.) Despite the new taxes, the proposal does not fund I-1351.

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Inslee’s proposal includes:

  • $1.3 billion to fully fund HB 2776 pursuant to the McCleary decision — K-3 class size reduction ($448.1 million), full-day kindergarten ($107.6 million), and materials, supplies and operating costs ($751.8 million).
  • $79.8 million for new spots in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.
  • A freeze of resident undergraduate tuition for the biennium.
  • $100 million for the Washington Opportunity Scholarship.
  • $332 million to fund collective bargaining agreements with state employees, and $149 million to increase salaries for other employees.
  • $235.5 million to fund I-732, the COLA for teachers.
  • An additional $150 million in salary increases for teachers (a 3 percent increase in 2015-16 and a 1.8 percent increase in 2016-17).
  • $35.6 million in new debt service costs due to borrowing proposed in the capital budget.

For more on the implications for higher education, see this brief from UW’s Office of Planning and Budgeting. It notes that

once salary increases are covered, recognized additional operational needs are met and dedicated funds are removed from the equation, there are no new state funds. In fact, the loss of resident undergraduate authority and the increased compensation expenses we would bear could result in potential unit-level shortfalls.

In addition to his $38.99 billion 2015-17 “book two” budget proposal, Gov. Inslee also released a “book one” budget. Governors are required to propose a budget that is balanced with existing revenue. This “book one” budget would increase spending over 2013-15 by $3.9 billion.

Comparing the “book two” and “book one” proposals, education is the main beneficiary of the additional spending in “book two,” with higher education gaining $427.9 million and K-12 gaining $297.2 million. Spending for the Department of Corrections increases by $261.4 million over the “book one” proposal.