Governor's Budget Update
April 4, 2020
When the legislature adjourned in mid-March, the coronavirus was just taking off in Washington state.
Within a matter of weeks, the state projected a significant decrease in revenues. Gov. Jay Inslee, in consultation with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, agreed that new funding approved by the Legislature would need to be vetoed to protect the long-term operation of essential government services.
Noting that “circumstances have changed dramatically in our state,” the Governor vetoed 147 new items, saving $235 million this year, and $210 million next.
Even with those deep cuts, several WEA priorities and interests remain funded:
- The COLA for Plan 1 retirees, who have been seeing the spending power of their pensions go down for many years, will see an increase up to a maximum of $62.50 per month, effective in July.
- Local Effort Assistance, which ensures that payments to districts will be maintained at 2019 levels, less any local revenue provided in 2020.
- Backfilling student transportation, which keeps current year district budgets intact.
- $3 million for student mental health and safety primarily for ESD-based administrative supports.
- Higher education budgets included money for University of Washington collective bargaining agreements.
- The Governor’s Education Research and Data Center will expand higher education reporting to include budget, revenue, and expenditure data for increased fiscal transparency in higher education institutions.
A series of budget provisos supporting racial and social justice were also funded:
- WaKIDS bias review
- African American history
- Professional learning for all school employees
- Since time immemorial tribal sovereignty
- Racial discipline gaps
Unfortunately, other priorities and interests were vetoed, including
- $32 million to add a half of an FTE counselor in high poverty elementary schools. That was expected to provide more than 300 FTE counselors statewide.
- $14 million for two additional paraeducator training days. The two days already funded beginning in the 2019-20 school year remain.
- Additional student transportation funding
- Small school supports
- Funding for several task forces and work groups
- The funding to investigate housing for CTC faculty and staff at four colleges.
- Part-time/full-time faculty study for college faculty to address issues related to over-reliance on adjunct faculty
- The CTC’s to plan how to increase the ratio of full-time tenure-track faculty to adjunct faculty and how to help our adjunct faculty achieve pay equity with full-time colleagues.
- Additional mental health counselors for four year colleges.
It is important to remember that the two-year budget that was passed in 2019 is still in effect. The funds that school districts and institutions have counted on are still there. There are no cuts to the state-funded positions that were in the budget last year. State-funded K-12 salary allocations for the next school year will increase by 1.6% over this school year levels.
Find a list of education policy bills WEA supported that were enacted this year.