SEATTLE Nearly two-thirds of the Washington state budget is protected by law from being cut, according to the state. That means that even if Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Legislature wanted to cut from these areas, they can t.

The 2011 13 state budget is about $23.8 billion. Of that, $15.1 billion is protected, according to the Office of Financial Management. That leaves $8.7 billion from which the governor wants the Legislature to cut $2 billion in spending.

The protected areas include:

  • K-12 basic education
  • Mandatory Medicaid
  • Nursing Homes / Home-based long term care
  • Title IV-E for foster care
  • Courts and judicial agencies

Unprotected areas include:

  • Department of Corrections
  • Higher education
  • Other K-12 education
  • Other human services

Here is a chart from the state Office of Financial Management breaking down what is and is not protected.

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