The closer the state gets to seeing the budget that Jay Inslee wants the legislature to pass next year, the more apparent it is that our “green” governor must prioritize public school funding before he pays for pay raises for his campaign donors in the state employee unions.
The latest voice to weigh in is the Walla Walla Union Bulletin, which writes “the court-ordered mandate on education funding, which has been in effect for four years, has got to be Job One. Lawmakers can no longer delay approving a plan that would provide enough funding to cover all the costs of K-12 education while freeing local taxpayer from having to supplement those costs through locally approved levies.”
Of course, Inslee has other priorities for spending the state’s money, as Shift – and later the Seattle Times have pointed out previously. To appease his million-dollar donors at the state employee unions, Inslee has big (and expensive) plans.
The Times spelled them out, “earlier this fall, Inslee’s administration released the tentative collective-bargaining agreements that his staff negotiated with 38 unions representing 95,000 public-sector workers and contractors. The contracts, which require legislative approval to take effect, generally call for a 6 percent raise for state employees — 2 percent in the 2018 fiscal year, which begins in July 2017, followed by 4 percent in fiscal year 2019. Those new proposed raises would go to about 78,000 workers, while about 17,000 more would get separate, job-specific raises.”
It’s clear that under state law that Inslee needs to submit a budget which relies are current projected revenue – not new taxes – to pay for his desires. In reality, that should mean that until Inslee submits a plan for funding public schools, the pay raises should wait.
The paper’s conclusion is straightforward, and good advice that Inslee might not hear in the Seattle bubble he lives in: “Basic education must be funded. After that, lawmakers should do what they believe is best in funding the wage hikes.”