Gov. Gregoire looking at tax increase to fund education

By | October 25, 2012 | Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire

Gov. Chris Gregoire is looking for a new source of revenue to fund education before leaving office in January.

“I would be remiss to sit here and do nothing as governor to meet the McCleary decision,” said Gregoire, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that said the state wasn’t doing its duty to fund basic education.

Gregoire’s remarks were in response to a reporter’s question at a press conference about a new plan to integrate Medicaid and Medicare services for the state’s chronically ill, disabled and elderly.

Gregoire’s office is working on the 2013-2015 budget, which will likely be released in December. The state is currently facing a $1.1 billion shortfall, and Gregoire said that will grow to be a $7 billion shortfall by 2018.

While acknowledging it isn’t a good time to raise taxes, Gregoire said the state has a “moral obligation” to fund education. Any new revenue source would have to be fair, grow over time, and be sent to the people for a vote, Gregoire said.

“Nothing is off the table,” she said.

Gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna have both pledged not to raise taxes. Gregoire questioned how realistic that is.

“I’m telling both candidates: I don’t know how to meet McCleary without new revenue,” Gregoire said.