What an All-Cuts Budget Really Looks Like
Washingtonians recently got a glimpse into what the state’s future could look like, and it was bleak. As Governor Gregoire recently laid out in her “Book One” budget, without new revenue, the state is looking at a $900 million gap between its current needs for health care, transportation and other services and the resources it can muster to pay for them. And, believe it or not, that’s a rosy scenario.
It ignores the $1 billion or more the state is also on the hook for to meet a court-ordered mandate to boost school funding. Throwing that into the mix shows that solving our economic problems solely by cutting important public services would be a disaster to the well-being of all Washingtonians and the state’s economy.
Fortunately, the Governor’s own proposal for the next two-year budget cycle, “Book Two,” recognized that it would take new revenue to meet the education funding mandate while maintaining other crucial investments in safe communities, good health, and economic security.
A budget that meets our current obligations and invests in public schools with no new revenue, as many lawmakers suggest we should do, would require over $2 billion in budget cuts.
As the graph shows, such a budget would decimate many things Washingtonians value:
- An affordable higher education: Policymakers would have to eliminate all funding to state four-year colleges and universities, along with financial aid for struggling students. That would mean even higher tuition costs for students, putting college out-of-reach for thousands of future workers.
- Skilled and motivated teachers: We need to attract the best teachers in order to give our kids the kind of educational edge they’ll need to compete in the 21st century economy. Suspending teacher salary increases would greatly hamper our ability to attract the best and the brightest educators for our children.
- Widely available early learning opportunities: Investments in early learning reap enormous dividends for our economy and promote widespread prosperity. Eliminating early learning would place thousands of our children at a disadvantage in later stages of their education.
Governor Gregoire has it right— a budget that meets our needs and fulfills our constitutional obligation to public education must include new revenue.