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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Inslee To Propose Significant Investments In Schools, Mental Health

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee plans to propose significant new investments in education and mental health. The Democrat will roll out his priorities for Washington’s next two-year budget at a series of events beginning Tuesday.

It’s a pre-Christmas ritual for Washington governors to unveil a two-year budget they would like to see lawmakers pass. It’s not binding on the legislature, but the spending blueprint telegraphs the governor’s priorities.

This year, Inslee’s top priority is fully funding public schools by 2018 as required by the state Supreme Court. The governor also wants to shore up Washington’s mental health system and address homelessness.

On mental health, a key issue is what to do with patients at the state hospitals who are ready for discharge. Currently there’s a lack of appropriate placements for them back in the community.

In the past, Inslee has proposed a new capital gains tax and a carbon cap and trade system to generate new tax dollars. But Republicans control the Washington state Senate and are almost certain to oppose any new taxes.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."