Series on Candidate Proposals: McKenna Education Funding Plan Would Harm Recovery
As part of our role to evaluate fiscal policies, we will continue to provide independent, unbiased analysis on this and other gubernatorial proposals as they arise.
As we noted last week, gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna’s plan to fund education by restricting all other investments, including funding for health care and economic security, is a harmful equation that would require cutting the very things that help Washingtonians thrive.
Specifically, the plan calls for limiting all non-education investments to general population growth plus inflation, or approximately six percent in a two-year budget cycle (three percent per fiscal year). This approach is particularly damaging following a recession, when the state should be making investments that promote economic recovery— investments such as job training that help people find and keep jobs, and health care to support a healthy workforce.
The graph below illustrates the impact this formula would have had if it were in effect during the last economic recovery. From 2002 to 2007, our state was recovering from the dot-com bust of the early 2000s. Under McKenna’s proposal, we would have drastically shortchanged our recovery efforts.
In 2006 alone, our state would have invested over $1.1 billion less in health care, children’s services, environmental protection, and other core functions of the state, if that cap was in place.
To put that figure in perspective, in today’s dollars that’s enough to completely fund:
- Our state’s prisons
- Children’s services
- Natural resources
Shortchanging our priorities is not the path to an economically prosperous state. To adequately fund education, along with economic security, health, and public safety, we must have a revenue system that can meet our needs.