My agenda for 2013 is simple to outline here, but I expect great difficulties in working through it:
- Produce a budget that balances for 2013-15 and 2015-17, resolves the McCleary education funding decision, implements the Medicaid expansion envisioned in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and projects rationally into the future.
- Inside the education box make some strategic decisions that enable our K-12 and higher education systems to be more productive, including
- More thoughtful allocation of proposed new K-12 spending to fund pre-school for at-risk three and four-year-old children. Most research in the field leads me to believe that this is a more optimum spending plan than what we are currently on a path to do.
- Create a strategy for how we fund and manage our higher education system so that a reasonable proportion of Washington students can learn the skills necessary to survive economically in the 21st century. Our current path is unattractive. I am concerned (optimistic?) about a radical dislocation in higher education driven by the Internet and think the state should do some planning.
- Take a step forward on transportation infrastructure, including finalizing how we will pay for the remainder of the 520 bridge project. (Tolling I-90 is the current plan, and there are not many alternatives.) There are other transportation projects that need to be considered as part of an overall plan, and the business community is pushing us to consider an increase in the gas tax to fund it.
There are lots of other issues that will come up this year. I do not expect to be the lead on most issues outside the budget, but if there is one that will get some of my attention it is taking a rational step forward on gun safety. What this will be is unclear at this point.
The politics in the state Senate will be interesting, though I don’t think they change the reality of budget votes in any significant way. The mix of votes in the Senate makes it difficult to pass a budget there with 25 Democratic votes, requiring the same kind of bi-partisan budget vote we’ve negotiated in the past few years.
As usual, I’ll try to write about policy developments on my blog at www.rosshunter.info, and will send out infrequent email updates. If I send them out too frequently you don’t read them, so I try to be careful. Of course when I do this they are tremendously long, but you can’t have everything.