In this edition you'll find an editorial calling on state lawmakers to pay attention to the framework around quality early learning proposals. You'll also find articles and editorials exploring the most recent possibilities for balancing new revenue with cuts.
Two bills introduced in the Legislature last week suggest
lawmakers are ramping up efforts to work with the private sector to
increase state revenue. Senate Bill 6465 would allow certain types of
commercial activities at state-owned highway rest stops. Senate Bill
6466 would allow advertising on and in school buses. Both bills have
bipartisan support, which is encouraging to see. They are examples of
the type of outside-the-box thinking required, if legislators are
serious about patching a $2.6 billion budget hole in the biennial
John Burbank, executive director of the Economic Opportunity
Institute in Seattle, discusses the big debate in Olympia for the next
two months between public services and public revenues. You can’t have
one without the other. The debate involves much more than public
revenues and public services, however. It is fundamentally about jobs,
both public sector and private sector.
The Washington Association of Realtors released polling this
week that shows the state is split on tax hikes. But it also showed 64
percent of voters oppose the governor’s all-cuts budget released in
December. 45 percent say raising taxes is the last thing lawmakers
should do, but 50 percent agree the governor and Legislature should
"protect essential services, even if it means raising some taxes,"
according to Realtors' polling-summary sheet.
A committee charged with figuring out how to reform the way
Washington pays for public education has passed along its 13
suggestions to the Legislature. At the top of the list is a belief that
in good times and bad, education should be the No. 1 priority of the
Legislature. Other recommendations include fully paying for student
transportation, new teacher support, full-day kindergarten and early
Rep. Kelli Linville said the cuts are smaller than what they
originally looked at, but they wanted cuts that would prove not so
controversial, allowing quicker action. But there are a few things
Gregoire has sought to cut that the House isn’t going along with — such
as the "Treehouse" program giving services to foster kids, which Rep.
Ruth Kagi has objected to, Linville said.
Washington's Legislature got a head start on its cost-cutting
chores Tuesday, discussing bills that would close state offices once a
month, extend a wage freeze for nonunion workers and trim about 175
full-time government jobs. The measures are part of the Legislature's
plan for a quick response to the state's budget deficit, pegged at
about $2.6 billion through June 2011.
The recession and high unemployment have combined to push more
and more Yakima County residents into medical debt. Now the state
insurance commissioner says the number of uninsured is expected to grow
before expected federal legislation to fix the problem takes effect
several years from now.
The federal Head Start review continues to generate
interesting analysis, including the idea it may show a catch-up dynamic
not a fade-out effect. Once kids hit kindergarten, teachers work hard
to help lagging students catch up with the rest of the class, National
Institute of Early Education Research co-director Steve Barnett wrote.
House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt didn’t think much of
yesterday's racial issues voting scorecard released by the Northwest
Federation of Community Organizations. More than a third of lawmakers
in the House and Senate had failing grades.