When candidates for Washington state governor Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee met Oct. 11 for the Governor’s debate, they went head–to-head on many topics, but one of the more prominent topics was that of education.
Due to the tumultuous experience Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has had during her term pertaining to the topic of education both men, Inslee and McKenna, are determined to change this.
Faced with balancing the budget, the state government has in the following years provided adequate funding for basic education, as mandated in the state Constitution and reinforced by the McMleary decision of the Washington state Supreme Court. However, both candidates see the educational budget as inadequate. Both agree that education should be the government’s No. 1 priority, but the ways they intend to aid the education system is where the two men disagree.
Inslee, Democratic former Congressman, intends to increase the education budget by preventive care of the healthcare system. The reason for this being that during the past few years the government has been relocating the education budget in order to pay for inflated healthcare costs.
If elected, Inslee intends to reroute these funds from the Healthcare System back to education, at the same time taking a preventive care approach to healthcare resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars that will go towards education.
While he agrees with Inslee on the importance of education, McKenna cites a different plan. McKenna’s plan would cap the growth of non-education government spending causing the education budget to grow by a projected $4 billion during the next eight years.
Two decades ago two-thirds of the Washington state budget was dedicated to basic and higher education. Whereas now the allocation has dropped to less than half of the total budget, a total budget that has doubled during the past 20 years. Now the government spends twice as much on Medicaid than on higher education, a complete reversal of funding levels from 20 years ago.
Inslee also agrees that the education budget should increase but that is not where he intends to stop. Inslee believes that the educational system must also see reforms in order to meet student achievement standards. He says the modifications to healthcare could save $120 million by moving people from disability to Medicare, allowing the now freed funds to go toward these reforms.
While both men criticized the other’s plan for increasing education funding, calling the other’s plan a “gimmick” and “lacking specifics” they both made it clear that changes would be coming to basic and higher education.
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