It is, if nothing else, a jumping-off point. A start of the discussion. A blueprint for lawmakers to consider and debate and redesign if they so choose.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed budget, which was issued last week, recommends $3.9 billion in increased spending for K-12 education over the next biennium. To get there, the governor suggests the establishment of a capital-gains tax and a carbon tax in order to increase state revenue.
If that sounds familiar, it is because Inslee has supported such proposals in the past, only to be rejected by the Legislature and/or the voters. But with the Legislature facing a deadline for meeting the 2012 state Supreme Court ruling in McCleary v. Washington and for fully funding public education, the governor thinks he can generate support for the proposals. “We believe people eventually will come to grips with reality,” he told The Columbian’s Editorial Board in a conference call.
Therein lies the conundrum. Inslee’s proposal was immediately decried by some lawmakers — the same lawmakers who have failed to come up with adequate funding over the past two legislative sessions. We agree that new taxes should be a last resort, yet we are eager to hear some alternatives, the kind that lawmakers have been unable or unwilling to generate.
The Legislature has increased funding for schools in recent years, but it has remained far short of the destination established by the court. Inslee likes to use the metaphor of scaling a mountain, saying, “Now we’re in the final 3,000 feet of the climb,” while noting that is the most difficult part.