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How would you balance the state budget and fund education?

The Seattle Times

Current general fund budget

A big chunk of the state's general fund budget — some say as much as two-thirds — is essentially off limits for cuts because of federal requirements, state law or constitutional mandates. Among the restricted areas are basic K-12 education, debt service and certain funding for Medicaid, pensions, courts and other programs.

KELLY SHEA / THE SEATTLE TIMES

State lawmakers have a big problem: The next two-year state budget faces a shortfall of up to $1.3 billion. And on top of that, the state Supreme Court has said Washington isn't meeting its obligation to fully fund basic education. Meeting that mandate could cost an additional $500 million to $1.7 billion over the next two years, depending on whom you ask. Here's your chance to decide how you would balance the state budget and increase education funding at the same time.

A few proposals have been offered to help achieve those goals. These possible cuts and tax increases are compiled from former Gov. Chris Gregoire's 2013-15 budget proposal released in December, from a list of possible cuts offered by a state commission examining how to improve education, from House Republicans and individual lawmakers, and from Gov. Jay Inslee's budget priorities released March 28. This is not a comprehensive list of every potential cut or tax increase mentioned, but it gives an idea of the choices lawmakers may have to make.

To add or remove an option, you can drag or click once on it. Benchmarks on the right will activate as you reach them. Click the information icon to learn more about each item.

Budget options

Health care

  • Cut HIV services
    $37.0M

    Proposal information

    This would eliminate such services as prescription drug assistance, health insurance-premium assistance, and medical case management for approximately 4,000 HIV-positive clients.
  • Cut public-health funding
    $64.0M

    Proposal information

    This would eliminate state funding for certain local public-health programs that set community health priorities and establish community health improvement plans, among other things.
  • Eliminate health coverage for undocumented children
    $41.0M

    Proposal information

    This provides health coverage for children whose families meet Medicaid income eligibility standards but who are disqualified from Medicaid for other reasons – usually because they are undocumented. The money also reimburses hospitals and other providers for emergency treatments provided to undocumented children.
  • Eliminate funding for medically needy
    $67.5M

    Proposal information

    Medically needy are aged, blind or disabled clients who are declared Medicaid eligible after they spend (and continue to spend) a significant amount of their own income on their health care. This is also called “spend-down.”
  • Accept Medicaid expansion in the federal Affordable Care Act
    $296.0M

    Proposal information

    Under President Obama’s health-care law, states have the option to expand Medicaid, with the federal government picking up the tab. That could result in a few hundred-thousand residents switching from state-funded health-care programs onto Medicaid.
  • Eliminate Disability Lifeline, ADATSA medical and Basic Health Plan
    $50.5M

    Proposal information

    This would eliminate Disability Lifeline (now called Medical Care Services), as well as a state substance-abuse treatment program called ADATSA and the Basic Health Plan. Disability Lifeline provides medical coverage for people with temporary disabilities; ADATSA money for substance-abuse treatment; and the Basic Health Plan provides health coverage for the working poor.
  • Extend Hospital Safety Net fees on hospital operations
    $259.0M

    Proposal information

    The fees, originally requested by hospitals in Washington state as a way to obtain matching funds from the federal government, also now support the state general fund. The program is scheduled to expire this summer.

Public safety

  • Close special-offender commitment center
    $74.0M

    Proposal information

    This would close the McNeil Island facility that houses sex offenders who have finished their sentences but are deemed too dangerous to release. The facility provides treatment for these offenders.
  • Eliminate assistance to crime victims
    $54.0M

    Proposal information

    The departments of Commerce and Labor and Industries administer several programs for crime victims, including education about dangers, compensation for losses and grants to assist victims of sexual assault.
  • Eliminate offender supervision
    $18.9M

    Proposal information

    This would eliminate supervision for offenders released from jail.

Higher education

  • Charge foreign students higher tuition
    $59.0M

    Proposal information

    This proposal would levy a 20 percent surcharge on tuition paid by international students attending Washington state colleges and universities. Currently, foreign students pay the same tuition as out-of-state students. The surcharge would increase the price of undergraduate tuition for international students at the University of Washington by about $6,000 -- to $35,000 a year.
  • Across-the-board cuts to public universities and colleges
    $52.0M

    Proposal information

    This would reduce state general-fund support to two-year and four-year colleges and universities by 2.5 percent.
  • Cut State Need Grants by half
    $310.0M

    Proposal information

    The State Need Grant program provides funding for about 75,000 poor students to attend college each year.

K-12 education

  • Eliminate state education-reform programs
    $37.0M

    Proposal information

    The state currently funds dozens of initiatives run on a competitive grant basis to address a variety of issues, including career and technical education, wrap-around-services that support poor children, and training of principals on the state’s new teacher-evaluation system.
  • Re-adopt temporary salary cuts for teachers
    $166.0M

    Proposal information

    A budget-saving measure temporarily cut teacher pay by 1.9 percent and the salaries of school administrators by 3 percent. This would extend the cuts beyond their expiration date this year.
  • Eliminate bonuses for teachers certified by national board
    $98.0M

    Proposal information

    All Washington state teachers certified by the National Board on Professional Teaching Standards currently receive a $5,000 bonus, and those working in high-poverty schools receive another $5,000 bonus. The program is meant to encourage certification, which requires advanced training.
  • Reduce levy-equalization payments to local school districts
    $100.0M

    Proposal information

    This proposal would reduce levy equalization funding to local school districts by $100 million, or 21 percent. Levy-equalization money goes to mostly small and rural school districts that cannot afford to raise as much through levies as other districts. It is by far the largest state funding program in K-12 that is not included in the Legislature’s definition of basic education.
  • Eliminate Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program
    $112.0M

    Proposal information

    This program provides free preschool programs for about 8,500 low-income children each year.
  • Cut state contribution to teacher health insurance
    $163.0M

    Proposal information

    Currently, the state contributes an average of $648 per month to the health-care premiums for teachers ­–78 percent of the cost. Reducing the state contribution by 10 percent would cost each teacher on average about $65 a month extra.
  • Suspend Initiative 732
    $360.0M

    Proposal information

    This initiative, approved by voters, mandates annual cost-of-living raises for teachers. It has been repeatedly suspended by the Legislature due to budget shortfalls.

State employees

  • Cut state contribution to state employee health insurance by 10 percent
    $218.0M

    Proposal information

    The state pays about $800 per month in health-care premiums for each state employee. The employees in turn pay an average of $140 month for health-care premiums – 15 percent of the total cost. Reducing the state contribution by 10 percent would cost employees an extra $80 per month (they would pay 27 percent instead of 15 percent).
  • Re-adopt temporary salary cuts for non-teacher state employees
    $169.0M

    Proposal information

    A budget-saving measure temporarily cut the salaries of state employees (except teachers) by 3 percent. The cut is supposed to end in July.

General government

  • Eliminate state support for the Department of Agriculture
    $30.0M

    Proposal information

    State funding to the Department of Agriculture is used mostly to support the state’s food banks. Some money is also directed to help administer county fairs.
  • Reduce budgets for legislative/judicial agencies, and the governor’s office
    $43.0M

    Proposal information

    The governor’s office and legislative and judicial agencies receive money to conduct functions of government.
  • Across-the-board cut for all agencies
    $101.0M

    Proposal information

    This proposal would impose a 2 percent across-the-board cut on all state agencies.

Natural resources

  • Eliminate state support for the Department of Fish and Wildlife
    $66.0M

    Proposal information

    State funding to the Department of Fish and Wildlife is used for a variety of programs, including processing hunting and fishing licenses, assessing proposed hydraulic projects and managing the state’s fish runs and wolf populations. Eliminating the funding would likely lead to user-fee increases.
  • Eliminate state support for the Department of Ecology
    $92.0M

    Proposal information

    State funding to the Department of Ecology is used for a variety of programs, including administering vehicle smog tests, offering rebates for turning in wood stoves, assessing the environmental impacts of development on the state’s shorelines and processing applications for farmers requesting water rights. Eliminating the funding would likely lead to user-fee increases.
  • Eliminate state support for the Department of Natural Resources
    $72.0M

    Proposal information

    State funding to the Department of Natural Resources is used to fight forest fires, manage the state’s land trusts and map the state’s resources.

Taxes

  • Repeal the sales tax exemption for local residential telephone service
    $83.2M

    Proposal information

    The would repeal the sales tax exemption for local residential telephone service. Currently, only traditional land-line local service qualifies for the sales tax exemption.
  • Repeal extracted fuel use tax exemption
    $62.6M

    Proposal information

    This tax exemption is for fuel produced by a company during a manufacturing process when the fuel is used by the producer in the same manufacturing activity. The main beneficiaries are the wood products industry and oil refineries.
  • Repeal sales tax exemption for custom computer software
    $78.5M

    Proposal information

    This would repeal the sales tax exemption on the service of creating custom software. The following would continue to be exempt: • Custom software services purchased for resale, • Custom software services consumed as a component of a new product produced for sale.
  • Impose an excise tax on wholesale fuel
    $368.0M

    Proposal information

    The transportation taxes would supplant general-fund money that now helps pay for school-bus transportation, freeing up more money for schools.
  • Repeal sales-tax exemption on candy and gum
    $68.6M

    Proposal information

    The Legislature repealed this tax exemption in 2010, but it was restored later that year by voters.
  • Extend 50-cents-a-gallon beer-tax increase
    $127.6M

    Proposal information

    This tax on mass-market beer, approved by lawmakers in 2010, is due to expire in June. This proposal would make the taxes permanent and extend them to small breweries.
  • Eliminate preferential tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs
    $29.0M

    Proposal information

    This would eliminate the preferential business and occupation (B&O) tax rate of 0.138 percent for resellers of prescription drugs. It instead would apply the wholesaling B&O tax rate of 0.484 percent or the retailing B&O tax rate of 0.471 percent to these activities. This tax preference was enacted to encourage out-of-state prescription drug companies to build warehouses in Washington.
  • Repeal sales tax exemption on bottled water
    $51.5M

    Proposal information

    This would repeal the sales tax exemption on sales of bottled water to consumers. The tax would apply to both portable-sized bottles and bulk bottled water sales.
  • Impose carbonated-beverage tax
    $57.0M

    Proposal information

    This 0.19-cent per ounce tax would exempt the first $10 million for producers.
  • Repeal sales tax exemption for non-residents
    $63.7M

    Proposal information

    This would would repeal the nonresident sales tax exemption. This exemption was enacted to enable Washington sellers, especially those along the Oregon border, to compete with merchants in other states that either do not levy a retail sales tax or levy a sales tax with a low rate.
  • Limit sales tax exclusion for vehicle trade-ins
    $94.8M

    Proposal information

    This would limit the exclusion of trade-in value from retail sales and use tax to $10,000 for motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, boats and other items. Currently, when someone trades in a vehicle to purchase another one, the entire trade-in value is deducted from the selling price that is subject to sales tax.
  • Trim preferential B&O tax rates for most industries
    $66.2M

    Proposal information

    This would reduce by 25 percent the value of preferential B&O tax rates for all industries except aerospace and radioactive waste cleanup by the federal government.
  • Enact capital-gains tax
    $1.27B

    Proposal information

    This proposal would set a 5 percent excise tax on capital gains, excluding the sale of a principal residence as well as the first $10,000 in gains for individuals and the first $20,000 for married couples. The proposal also would extend beer and business-and-occupation tax surcharges - due to expire next year - until the end of 2015.
  • Extend business-and-occupation surcharge on service businesses
    $534.0M

    Proposal information

    A 0.3 percent B&O tax surcharge on businesses such as doctors, lawyers, accounts and hairdressers was approved by lawmakers in 2010 and is due expire in June. This proposal would extend it through 2016.

Budget shift

  • Redirect liquor excise taxes to the state general fund
    $50.5M

    Proposal information

    This would redirect the share of liquor taxes that goes to cities and counties to the state general fund. Local governments say they count on this money to help balance their budgets.
  • Tap the state rainy day fund
    $575.0M

    Proposal information

    This proposal would transfer up to $575 million from the state "rainy day fund," a constitutionally protected reserve that can only be tapped during economic downturns and emergencies, or by a three-fifths vote of the Legislature.

Your budget:

  • Cut HIV services
    $37.0M
  • Cut public-health funding
    $64.0M
  • Eliminate health coverage for undocumented children
    $41.0M
  • Eliminate funding for medically needy
    $67.5M
  • Accept Medicaid expansion in the federal Affordable Care Act
    $296.0M
  • Eliminate Disability Lifeline, ADATSA medical and Basic Health Plan
    $50.5M
  • Extend Hospital Safety Net fees on hospital operations
    $259.0M
  • Close special-offender commitment center
    $74.0M
  • Eliminate assistance to crime victims
    $54.0M
  • Eliminate offender supervision
    $18.9M
  • Charge foreign students higher tuition
    $59.0M
  • Across-the-board cuts to public universities and colleges
    $52.0M
  • Cut State Need Grants by half
    $310.0M
  • Eliminate state education-reform programs
    $37.0M
  • Re-adopt temporary salary cuts for teachers
    $166.0M
  • Eliminate bonuses for teachers certified by national board
    $98.0M
  • Reduce levy-equalization payments to local school districts
    $100.0M
  • Eliminate Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program
    $112.0M
  • Cut state contribution to teacher health insurance
    $163.0M
  • Suspend Initiative 732
    $360.0M
  • Cut state contribution to state employee health insurance by 10 percent
    $218.0M
  • Re-adopt temporary salary cuts for non-teacher state employees
    $169.0M
  • Eliminate state support for the Department of Agriculture
    $30.0M
  • Reduce budgets for legislative/judicial agencies, and the governor’s office
    $43.0M
  • Across-the-board cut for all agencies
    $101.0M
  • Eliminate state support for the Department of Fish and Wildlife
    $66.0M
  • Eliminate state support for the Department of Ecology
    $92.0M
  • Eliminate state support for the Department of Natural Resources
    $72.0M
  • Repeal the sales tax exemption for local residential telephone service
    $83.2M
  • Repeal extracted fuel use tax exemption
    $62.6M
  • Repeal sales tax exemption for custom computer software
    $78.5M
  • Impose an excise tax on wholesale fuel
    $368.0M
  • Repeal sales-tax exemption on candy and gum
    $68.6M
  • Extend 50-cents-a-gallon beer-tax increase
    $127.6M
  • Eliminate preferential tax rate for resellers of prescription drugs
    $29.0M
  • Repeal sales tax exemption on bottled water
    $51.5M
  • Impose carbonated-beverage tax
    $57.0M
  • Repeal sales tax exemption for non-residents
    $63.7M
  • Limit sales tax exclusion for vehicle trade-ins
    $94.8M
  • Trim preferential B&O tax rates for most industries
    $66.2M
  • Enact capital-gains tax
    $1.27B
  • Extend business-and-occupation surcharge on service businesses
    $534.0M
  • Redirect liquor excise taxes to the state general fund
    $50.5M
  • Tap the state rainy day fund
    $575.0M
  • $0.0M Balanced budget Balanced budget
    $1.0B Republicans' goal for education funding Republicans' goal
    $1.7B Democrats' goal for education funding Democrats' goal
    -$1.3B Current deficit

    Last updated on March 28, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.

    Most popular comments

    How about we cut spending back to 2006 levels? This would balance the budget with a lot extra to spare. Remember this? Originally published...  Posted on March 20, 2013 at 7:46 PM by Mataro. Jump to comment
    It's so tiring to hear any budget talk begin with the canard that the Supreme Court ordered anything to do with education funding. First it...  Posted on March 20, 2013 at 8:01 PM by rexuswdog. Jump to comment
    Almost the entire chart is a sham. Why not just take the word "eliminate" for example. Just replace the word "eliminate" with...  Posted on March 20, 2013 at 11:09 PM by pluto. Jump to comment
    Post a comment
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