Governor's proposal moot but interesting, right Jay?

January 2, 2013 

Gov. Gregoire proposed a state budget, as state law requires her to do.

To be clear, a proposed budget is not "the" budget. The governor's budget is more like a starting point for state lawmakers to wrangle over.

The Legislation still is the body that approves a budget, usually significantly different than the governor's proposed one.

But at least they have something to go on.

Since Gregoire's time in the governor's mansion is waning, her budget is especially interesting to us and moot at the same time.

It's interesting because she has three terms of experience with no real ulterior motives. The door is practically closed on her term in office.

She doesn't have to keep the electorate happy in case she wants to run again.

She's not playing to any special interests.

Conversely, it's a moot point for the same reason.

She won't be here to promote or defend any of her suggestions.

For several months the governor has been critical of her two would-be successors' budget plans.

When they were on the campaign trail, neither Jay Inslee nor Rob McKenna was in favor of increasing the state's revenue through taxes.

Gregoire repeatedly said increased revenue (code word for taxes) had to be a part of this year's mix. So we're not surprised to see increased revenue in her budget.

We are, however, surprised that she has tied the revenue increases to school funding.

The Washington State Supreme Court has determined that the state is not meeting its educational obligation.

It makes sense, then, to us, that education should be at the top of the list -- not the bottom.

The proposed taxes should be tied to saving important social services that might otherwise be cut, not to educational funding ... the state's constitutional paramount duty.

The law says the state must fund education -- not that it should fund education two-thirds lawmakers are willing to let some tax breaks expire. (It seems like a hard sell. Time will tell.)

We also find it strange that the incoming governor has been mostly silent on the budget issue.

True the budget on the table now is not his doing, but it is the "governor's" budget and he will be sworn in Jan. 14.

The state employs 35 budget writers. It's a big job. We are curious about how Inslee is preparing himself for the transition.

We expected to have heard more from him by now. How about it, Jay?

We're expecting a rough ride on the budget trail this year. We have hopes for some real leadership. This is definitely the year someone needs to shine.

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