Cutting back to the bone. On Oct. 27, our state governor Chris Gregoire proposed a $2 billion budget cut that would severely impact nearly every aspect of Washington's communities. Some of these budget cuts include eliminating subsidized health insurance for the working poor, increasing class sizes in public schools and cutting the length of supervision for inmates released from prison. No aid, less education and criminals running on the loose – who would not want to live here? Regrettably, it goes without saying that the suggested budget cuts are not painting Washington’s future with bright colors.
Unfortunately, the mentioned budget cuts barely graze the tip of the iceberg. In all, Gregoire has proposed more than 160 budget cuts ranging from $100,000 to more than $160 million per program and project. One example of some of the areas that is expecting to experience budget cuts are the Department of Early Development. Cuts will include reducing preschool enrollment by 25 percent to save $14 million, cutting down on the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction by eliminating school bus transportation, increasing K-12 class sizes and reducing the school year by one week to save more than $450 million.
Additionally, cuts will be made to the Health Care Authority by changing eligibility for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and eliminating the basic health plan to save about $200 million.
This is only to name a few of the many significant changes that will be occurring in the state of Washington as a result of these budget cuts. While we will all experience the impact of these reductions if they are put into action, there are others that will affect college students even more directly.
The most significant hit to the student population is the proposal of reducing state support to colleges and universities by 15 percent to save $222 million. This would cut the General Fund-State support to the six public colleges and universities and 34 community and technical colleges in the second year of the biennium.
The state has been in budget-cutting mode since the recession hit three years ago, and since then students and their families have already been struggling with the double-digit tuition increases lawmakers approved to make up for cuts to higher education.
From eliminating the state's support toward early education to raising college tuition, the large disinvestment in future generations of the state of Washington in these proposed budget cuts is unsettling, and many important figures involved in education within our state are openly expressing their concerns. WSU President Elson S. Floyd said in a statement that he will oppose the budget cuts at every level and will be aggressive in his perspective that these cuts are unacceptable.
Our university’s president is only one of the many leaders angered by this proposition, and it is nearly impossible to find a citizen of the state who is behind this proposal.
“I don’t want anyone to think that I like these options,” Gregoire said.
You are the one in charge, Gregoire. If you do not like it, then don't do it. You have the power and influence to find a more agreeable alternative and set it into motion.
What the state needs is a leader with the courage to take chances on charters, vouchers, lowering taxes and loosening small business and corporate regulation to increase revenue within our state. It might be about time that we took a history lesson from our friends in California and recalled the Democrat to replace her with a Republican, which is how Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor.
And no more finding lost votes up your sleeves this time, Gregoire.