OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee today signed the 2016 supplemental budget, which makes modest adjustments to the state’s current two-year budget. The updated budget covers the cost of last year’s record wildfire season, continues to strengthen mental health funding and services, funds several new collective bargaining agreements, and makes other adjustments required to continue vital services to Washingtonians.
Inslee praised House and Senate budget negotiators for their work on the compromise budget, which builds on the $38.2 billion 2015–2017 budget passed last June — a budget that includes historic new investments in early learning, $1.3 billion in new funding for K-12 schools and a first-in-the-nation cut to higher education tuition.
However, the governor said he was disappointed legislators did not address Washington’s teacher shortage by making needed increases to beginning teacher pay and he stressed that state faces significant challenges in fully funding K-12 education.
“Unfortunately, the supplemental budget fails to make even modest progress on improving teacher salaries so we can recruit and retain excellent educators to address our teacher shortage,” Inslee said. “Next year, legislators will have to address this issue along with critical levy reforms and meeting our constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education.”
“As we look to the significant education funding challenges ahead of us, the legislature’s bipartisan McCleary work group will help ensure we have all the information needed to start tackling tough decisions on Day 1 of the 2017 session,” Inslee continued.
Inslee used his veto authority to make several changes to the supplemental budget.
The governor vetoed one section that would have reduced funding to the State Auditor’s Office by $10 million. This will prevent layoffs and other cuts in that office’s performance audit division. Inslee took the action after getting agreement from the Auditor’s Office to revert $5 million back to the General Fund at the end of the biennium.
Inslee also vetoed a section in which the Legislature stated its intent to authorize no new loans from the state’s Public Works Assistance Account during the 2017–19 biennium. “Use of funding in the account next biennium is a decision for the next legislature, while the need for future public infrastructure improvement throughout the state is clear,” Inslee said in his veto message.