Late Thursday night the Washington Legislature released details on a final budget compromise for the 2013-15 biennium. And by late this evening the Washington Legislature forwarded the final budget to Governor Inslee’s desk for signature.
Overall the proposed budget makes several policy enhancements, primarily in education. These include: (1) over $1 billion in K-12 education increases for basic education; (2) over $180 million in policy level enhancements in state funding for higher education; and (3) $25 million for expanded preschool through the Department of Early Learning.
In addition the budget leaves approximately $630 million in reserves.
These enhancements as well as the other parts of the budget are funded through a combination of savings, transfers, and the redirection of funds.
- $1.6 billion in spending controls and savings: (1) $320 million by re-purposing Initiative 732, (2) $351 million through federal Medicaid expansion, (3) $272 million by temporarily extending the hospital safety net, (4) $40 million in LEAN, information technology and centralized service efficiencies, (5) $34 million in savings by aligning health benefit eligibility for state, higher education and K-12 employees with the federal Affordable Care Act, (6) $20 million in changes to the Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) program and support for the Aged, Blind and Disabled (ABD), (7) $162 million in caseload and policy changes affect TANF and Working Connections Child Care, (8) $31 million by delaying nursing home re-basing, and (9) $300 million in savings in all areas of government
- $500 million in transfers: The largest fund transfers include $34 million from the Life Science Discovery Fund, $22 million from the State Treasurer’s Service, $277 million from the Public Works Assistance Account, and $387 million in redirection of capital budget and other revenue funds
Finally the budget assumes $267 million in other resources. This increase includes a combination of $11 million in legislation reducing revenue and $279 million in legislation/budget actions increasing revenue. The source of the increased revenue is: (1) $159 million from enactment of the estate taxes, (2) $110 million from telecommunications services reform, and (3) $9.5 million from enhanced liquor revenue collected by the Department of Revenue.
The legislatively passed operating budget makes the strongest investment in higher education in years. The proposed budget assumes no increases in resident undergraduate tuition rates for the 2013-15 biennium. For 2013-14 the public, four-year institutions are prohibited from using tuition-setting authority to exceed the appropriated tuition level.
The total budget provides $3.1 billion in state funds to support higher education. The budget provides $119.3 million in funding to support the core academic functions of the institutions of higher education. Finally the budget makes an investment in financial aid including the College Bound Scholarship program and the State Need Grant.
In addition $17.6 million is provided to the University of Washington (UW), Washington State University (WSU) and Western Washington University to expand enrollments in computer science and engineering. Additional dollars are provided to WSU to expand their medical programs in Spokane and to establish the Clean Energy Institute and the Center on Ocean Acidification at the UW.
For Evergreen the budget passed by the Legislature would require that tuition remain at zero for the 2013-15 biennium for undergraduate resident students. The College is prohibited from increasing tuition in 2013-14 but may increase tuition beyond this level with a prescribed investment in institutional financial aid in the following year.
In addition the budget invests $2.899 million above maintenance level funding for Evergreen. This represents a 5.6% increase from 2011-13 levels and provides funds for Evergreen to maintain affordable tuition, invest in student success programming, and support needs in basic technology infrastructure.
Finally, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, a public service center of Evergreen, is funded to support seven study/research projects for the Legislature.
The Governor is expected to sign into law the operating budget on Sunday. It is reported that no further action will be taken to try to move forward a transportation revenue. Finally, it is expected that a biennial capital budget will be released later this evening or tomorrow with hopes that the final capital budget will be sent to the Governor for his signature on Sunday.