Gov. Christine Gregoire announced a host of new state budget cuts on Monday while also proposing several new strategies to increase revenue.
Gregoire announced more than $2 billion in spending cuts, reductions to local government revenue sharing and fund transfers. The cuts are expected to build a $600-million reserve. According to a statement released Monday, the cuts include:
- More than $500 million from education program—reductions that would shorten the K-12 school year, reduce levy equalization payments, and cut state funding for colleges and universities by another 13 to 17 percent;
- More than $690 million from health and human service programs—cuts that would eliminate the state food assistance and Disability Lifeline programs, close one residential habilitation center and reduce personal care services for some of the state’s most vulnerable individuals; and
- Nearly $72 million from the Department of Corrections—reductions that would allow the early release of some offenders, shorten the length of offender supervision and reduce chemical dependency programs by 50 percent.
To balance out the cuts, Gregoire asked the public and the legislature to consider a temporary one-half cent bump in sales tax to generate more income. She’s recommended to the legislature to bring the issue to voters and let the public decide on the one-half cent sales tax increase. If approved, the increase would raise $494 million through June 30, 2013, and expire July 1, 2015, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
The additional revenue, Gregoire said, would prevent further cuts to education and public safety, in addition to the preservation of services for the developmentally disabled and those who require long-term care services.
Gregoire also proposed a series of revenue alternatives to the legislature, to the tune of nearly $341 million.
For more information, visit: http://www.ofm.wa.gov/budget12/default.asp.