Gov. Chris Gregoire challenged her potential successors to pursue new revenue in support of education, saying that she wished the state had committed more money to schools in this year’s budget.
The leading candidates to replace Gregoire – Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna – have both said they don’t see the need for new revenue. But Gregoire said the budget they will have to adopt shortly after taking office is already in need of $1 billion for education.
“To the candidates that are running: We can say, ‘No new revenue.’ But the reality is, we cannot live up to our responsibilities without new revenue,” Gregoire said.
Inslee and McKenna believe the state can save money in some areas, such as through efficiencies and lower health care costs, and shift more cash to education. And Inslee particularly said he thinks the state can grow its revenue with a strong economy.
Gregoire dismissed that idea, saying political leaders need to be realistic. Economic growth will be slow, she said.
“The idea that we’re going to turn the economy around in a split second and get ($1 billion) — there is absolutely nothing in terms of a forecast that would suggest that to be true,” Gregoire said.