Governor Inslee Releases Biennial Budget Priorities

This morning Governor Inslee released his priorities for funding over the next two years. The Budget priorities call for a commitment to education and rebuilding the state’s economy while meeting obligations with targeted investments and accountability.

“Our number one priority is revitalizing Washington’s economy and building a 21st centruy workforce.¬† To do that, we must start with a strong commitment to education – and we must ensure that our investments get results.”

Governor Inslee identifies six budget priorities for the state:

  • Make signficant and targeted investments in education to meet our constitutional obligations under the McCleary decision
  • Step up efforts on Lean management so state agencies operate more effectively and efficiently within available resources
  • Close tax breaks whose benefits do not outweight the needs of our schoolchildren
  • Promote policies and opportunties to grow jobs
  • Prepare Washington for a vibrant, thriving economy
  • Protect vital services to seniors, children and disabled individuals

The proposal¬†provides a path to address the state’s current $2 billion plus budget challenge, provide more than $500 million in reserves and proposes $1.2 billion as a “down payment” to meeting the state’s basic education obligations required by the McCleary ruling.

For Higher Education the proposal would fund institutions at maintenance level, increase tuition at the public baccalaureate institutions, and make a series of investments in high demand programs and financial aid.

The total proposal invests $112.9 million above maintenance level to higher education.

  • Fully funds maintenance level budgets at postsecondary institutions
  • Holds tuition at current levels for community and technical colleges and proposes a tuition increase of 3% at Evergreen and the comprehensive institutions and 5% at UW and WSU
  • Invests $11 million in a competitive enrollment pool for the public four-year institutions and a $5 million pool for the community and technical colleges
  • Expands capacity for high-cost programs at the community and technical colleges ($20 million)
  • Creates a Clean Energy Institute at the UW ($12 million)
  • Invests in WSU’s Center for Bioproducts and Biofuels ($5.2 million)
  • Increases funding for the College Bound scholarship program to meet the shortfall ($35 million)
  • Increases award amounts in the State Need Grant and Work Study programs to keep pace with the proposed tuition increases ($24.7 million)

Next week the Senate Majority Coalition is expected to release their budget followed by the House.

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