OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee will unveil key elements of his 2015 legislative agenda and proposed 2015–17 budget in a series of events next week. The governor’s proposals include plans to improve education for everyone from preschoolers to college students, create thousands of jobs in a comprehensive transportation package and take meaningful steps to fight carbon pollution.
“It is time to reinvest in Washington state,” Inslee said. “By acting responsibly and being innovative we can meet our obligation for a top-notch education system, building an economy that works for all Washingtonians and balancing the budget without gimmicks. And we will do that without cutting the vital state programs that serve the most-vulnerable Washingtonians.”
In speeches and public appearances in recent months, the governor has emphasized that while Washington’s economy is rebounding, revenue collections have not kept pace with our economy or the demands of our state’s growing and aging population.
The latest revenue projections for the next biennium are far short of what will be needed to continue delivering services at current levels as well as meet our most pressing needs and obligations, including the constitutional obligation to fund basic education.
The governor will propose major investments in the areas of early learning, kindergarten through 12th grade and STEM training, as well as in a higher education budget focused on keeping college affordable. To provide adequate funding, the budget will offer a mix of spending cuts, program enhancements and new revenue.
As the governor told the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce in October:
“There are nearly 1 million more people in our state today than there were in 2001. That means more students in our public schools, more people driving on our roads and bridges, more slots needed at our colleges and universities, and more people suffering from mental illness who need help.
“We’ve been limping along, in part by cutting vital services and deferring important investments. But that is the equivalent of a bubble gum and duct tape policy for the state of Washington.”
Inslee will hold four events next week highlighting the top issues facing the 2015 Legislature. While the governor has comprehensive plans for education, transportation and fighting carbon pollution, he will make clear next week that he is open to all ideas on how to best address those issues.
“I welcome the discussion and want to encourage others to put forth their proposals so together we can come up with how best to reinvest in Washington at this critical time in our history,” Inslee said.
Here are the scheduled announcements:
Monday, Dec. 15, the governor will release details of his education plan, which will make significant investments to adequately fund public schools and reduce early-grade class sizes. His plan will also include investments in early learning, higher education and other efforts to promote student success and increase graduation rates.
Tuesday, Dec. 16, the governor will unveil his comprehensive transportation package. His plan — based on a foundation of accountability and reforms — will provide funding to complete important projects and places priorities on traffic relief, safety, jobs and clean air.
Wednesday, Dec. 17, Inslee will announce his plan to reduce carbon pollution and create clean energy jobs. His proposal will include actions related to electric vehicles, alternative energy and a Carbon Pollution Accountability Act to reduce Washington’s carbon emissions. These policies will make the state healthier and help Washington’s innovative private sector meet the needs of the emerging clean energy economy.
Thursday, Dec. 18, the governor will release the entirety of his proposed 2015–17 biennial budget. That budget — which includes a mix of spending cuts, program enhancements and new revenue — will put the state on a sustainable path and not rely heavily on one-time fixes.
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*Editor’s note: Specific times and locations for each event will be announced later this week.