A new interpretation of the state constitution is the way to provide as much as $300 million per year for state colleges and universities, gubernatorial candidate Jim Waldo said Monday.
The constitution makes education of all Washington children the state’s “paramount duty” - a phrase generally interpreted to cover public schools through 12th grade.
“The state constitution does not stop at high school,” Waldo, a Tacoma attorney, said during a speech at Spokane Falls Community College.
Waldo thinks the Legislature could spend $600 million more per biennium on higher education by reinterpreting the constitution and changing its priorities.
After setting aside money for public schools - generally about half the state’s general fund budget - it should decide to spend more on colleges, universities and technical schools before considering other programs, the candidate said.
That still means some state departments would be cut, Waldo told SFCC faculty and administrators. He would start with the Department of Social and Health Services.
“I would also get rid of our Cadillac prison system and get per-prisoner costs down,” he added.
The increase for colleges will be necessary to handle increased enrollment in the next 15 years, Waldo said. It also is a key to attracting more businesses to the state and expanding the number of jobs, he said.
Waldo, 47, said the gubernatorial race may soon have as many as a dozen candidates.
He is one of at least six Republicans running for governor. State Rep. Dale Foreman of Wenatchee, King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, state Sen. Pam Roach of Auburn, former Sen. Ellen Craswell of Poulsbo, and King County party leader Nona Brazier have all announced campaigns.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo