Microsoft Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith had the following statement regarding Washington State Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget recommendations:

“We’re pleased that Governor Gregoire has prioritized education in her budget recommendations, given the difficult choices she faced among the many programs funded by the state. As we at Microsoft experience first-hand, education is the foundation for the state’s future economic growth and the ability of companies to create and fill jobs here. It’s important for the state to avoid further reductions in higher education funding, as these inevitably would lead either to a decline in quality or yet more tuition increases for students. It’s similarly important to maintain investments in K-12 education across the state, since additional cuts to the classroom and the school year would have a dramatic and damaging effect on student readiness for the 21st century economy.

“While the importance of education makes this the right time to discuss funding options, it’s vital that the discussion focus not only on how much money should be spent, but on spending it as effectively as possible. This is a time when the state should be making strategic improvements to education policy to strengthen our K-12 system. We believe it is important for the special session to adopt outcome-based reforms that will help ensure that all Washington students receive a quality education. These steps will best ensure that any proposed increase in the sales tax will lead to real improvements in education and thereby deserve the public’s support in a referendum.”