The Governor’s budget includes a few helpful visuals to explain our current economic circumstances in Washington. The first graph is an overview of revenue collections. The second is an representation of our obligations under SB 2776 (McCleary) over the next several years.
The upshot is as follows: General Fund collections (here, shown as a percentage of personal income) are falling, while our general fund obligations (particularly to K-12 education) are rising. A simple story, but not a simple fix.
Note that in the early 80s, the general fund collections of the state hovered around 7%. In lay terms, that means people generally paid about 7% of their earnings to the state government. Today, it’s noteworthy that people pay far less than that: about 5%.
Now look at our obligations going forward. You can see that they are headed in the opposite direction. Just to pay for the additional students we expect to see in the system, the cost of teacher COLAs, and the cost of McCleary going forward, the state is looking at about a $2 billion annual bill starting in FY2019. That’s just K-12 education, to say nothing of our obligations in higher education, health care, social services, etc. And just eyeballing it, that seems like a fairly modest cost estimate, given all that MCleary encompasses.
The upshot, I think, is that it is becoming harder and harder to compartmentalize these conversations – to continue to support state budget allocations for certain programs (public schools or otherwise) without a serious conversation about where the money is going to come from.
Explanation of major education items included in the Governor’s budget:
~ Ben Rarick,
Graphics from: http://www.ofm.wa.gov/budget14/highlights/default.asp