The major reductions included in the Governor’s budget proposal impact widely shared values: education and opportunity, healthy people and environment, thriving communities and economic security.
Education and Opportunity:
• Tuition increases of 9-11 percent for our state’s colleges
• Elimination of 1,324 slots for 3 year-olds in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)
• A $2.2 billion cut to K-12 which includes suspension of teacher salary increases under Initiative 732 and suspension of the Student Achievement Program under Initiative 728, which provides smaller class sizes, extended learning time for students and professional development for teachers
Healthy People and Environment:
• Elimination of health benefits for 27,000 children
• Elimination of the Basic Health Plan, which provides coverage for 66,000 low-income adults, most of whom are working
• Elimination of Disability Lifeline medical which provides health coverage for 21,000 low-income adults each year who are unable to work due to a disability
• Closure of Maple Lane School in Rochester, a maximum/medium security facility for juveniles
• Elimination of the state Arts Commission
• Elimination of state general fund dollars for State Parks. Operation and maintenance of parks will be dependent upon user fees
• Elimination of the State Food Assistance Program which provides food benefits for low-income legal immigrants
• Elimination of cash grants for Disability Lifeline recipients who cannot work due to a disability but do not meet the disability standard for federal Social Security Insurance
• Reduction in the number of hours of care for 45,000 seniors and clients with disabilities who receive in-home care
It is important to note that all of these important priorities have already weathered cuts totaling more than $5 billion in the current biennium. As we outlined in September, those cuts have already meant a big step backwards from supporting the values we share as Washingtonians.
Further, on Friday the Governor will release a proposed supplemental budget for the current biennium, which will very likely include even deeper cuts to our core values.
The Governor’s budget proposals do not have to become reality, however. In the coming months, it is critical that lawmakers take a balanced approach to the ongoing economic crisis and consider sensible revenue options in order to prevent unacceptably deep cuts in our core public systems.
Take note, on Friday schmudget will feature an overview of the Governor’s proposed supplemental budget for the current 2009-11 biennium.