The need for good schools for our children, safe communities for us all, and other programs that help our state thrive continues to grow. Yet Washington state government investment in these priorities remains depressed after years of deep cuts enacted during the Great Recession. Next week, as lawmakers gather in Olympia to convene the 2016 legislative session, legislators should take steps to further increase investments in our state so that we can create a thriving economy in which all Washingtonians have the opportunity to get ahead.
Governor Inslee’s proposed 2016 supplemental budget would modestly increase funding to cover unexpectedly high needs for health care, child care, mental health, and wildfire-fighting services. Even with this, state government spending in the current budget cycle would remain well below pre-recession levels when measured as a share of the economy (see graph below).
This session, legislators should fund Governor Inslee’s proposed improvements to mental health services and salary increases among first-year teachers. And they should take steps to better invest in our state to improve the well-being of all Washingtonians.
Stay tuned to schmudget for further recommendations on what kinds of steps lawmakers should take to strengthen Washington’s economy during the 2016 session.