Outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) has proposed a budget for 2013-2015 that puts an additional $1 billion toward public education, with some of the money coming from tax increases on wholesale fuel and diesel sales.
As noted in "budget highlights" posted on the state's Office of Financial Management website, the proposed $1 billion increase would begin to address the requirements of the McCleary decision, a Washington State Supreme Court ruling that determined the state was not adequately funding public education.
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A news release from Gregoire's office describes the $1 billion as a "down payment" toward fulfilling the state mandate. The money would come from an added excise tax on wholesale fuel and diesel sales, as well as an extension of surcharges on beer and business-and-occupation taxes.
“My goal with this budget was to give our incoming governor and the Legislature a balanced and sustainable plan that addresses our fiscal problem and preserves services that are pivotal to our future prosperity,” Gregoire said in a news release. “Nothing will do more to ensure a bright future for our state than the many enhancements we are proposing throughout our education system.”
As required by law, Gregoire also developed a second budget that solely relied on existing funds. The governor said in a news release that budget would amount to $52 million in cuts to state colleges and universities as well as elimination of the state's food assistance program.
“A budget that relies only on existing revenue would not only jeopardize essential services—I’m convinced it would also hinder our economic recovery," she said.
Gregoire steps down as governor on Jan. 16, making these two budget proposals her last after eight years in office. Her successor, Jay Inslee (D), will have the option of drawing on Gregoire's proposal or coming up with a completely new plan when he takes office next month.