This Washington

Report: State Failing to Meet Basic Funding Commitments

By Erica C. Barnett September 2, 2010

According to a new report by the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, the ongoing recession has led to major cuts to health care, education, environmental programs, and public safety. During the current budget cycle (2009-2011), the state will spend 10 percent less than would have been necessary to fund prior commitments in education, communities, health care, and economic security, the report concludes.

Education spending has been cut 11.3 percent; public safety and economic-development programs have been cut 7.3 percent; spending on health and the environment has been cut 9.3 percent; and economic-security programs have been cut 9.7 percent.
Budget cuts of this depth and breadth represent a sharp reduction in our investment in the future of our state. They have resulted in the loss of affordable quality health insurance for over 44,000 people, reduced access to higher education, a dramatic decrease in natural resource protection, the loss of needed financial assistance for people who are unemployed because of a disability, and more.

The cuts have not been equal across the board. Overall, the areas that will be cut the most include programs that cultivate opportunities for higher education (down 17.3 percent); programs to promote sustainability like the Department of Fish and Wildlife (down 33.4 percent); and programs that protect public health and the environment like funding for the HPV vaccine and substance-abuse programs (down 23 percent).

The report concludes, "The outlook for the next biennium is bleak because economic woes will continue to hold back revenue growth. According to the most recent forecast, current revenue expectations will be $3 billion short of the amount needed to continue our current commitments."

Read the whole report here.
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