Gov. Jay Inslee released his supplemental budget proposal for the 2013–2015 biennium today and, he said, to prepare for the upcoming budget challenges of 2015–2017.
His supplemental budget proposal, a $200 million increase over the $33.6 billion budget legislators passed last session, includes $150 million in mandatory spending to maintain current service levels and cover cost increases, including a projected 10,200 increase in K–12 enrollment and 336 more jail inmates by the end of the biennium; funding for wildfire costs; and money for a Medicaid funding shortfall.
The proposal also adds $55 million in additional funding to expand prison capacity ($7 million); mental health services for children ($8.2 million); technology infrastructure ($13 million); and various other education initiatives to expand teacher mentoring, math and science education programs, and Washington's aerospace program.
Gov. Inslee reported a steadily improving state economy, but said the state legislature will have to work hard to create more sustainable budget solutions for the 2015–2017 biennium, which must include another down-payment on meeting the State Supreme Court's McCleary ruling to fully fund K-12 education. (After spending an extra $900 million in the current biennium, based largely on one-time funds and transfers, they've got to kick in approximately another $3.3 billion to meet the mandate in the 2015-17 biennium.)
"Unfortunately, the economy and our revenue collections are not growing fast enough to keep pace with the costs of maintaining current services, let alone provide the billions of dollars still needed to meet our court-mandated basic educations obligations," he said. "This is a hold-steady budget that keeps us whole the remainder of the biennium, but we'll have to make some tough decisions again next year."
Explaining the upcoming state commitments, he later stoically described his current budget as a "get ready" budget.