Monday, November 21, 2011

Governor unveils budget that ‘shreds safety net’

Gov. Chris Gregoire says the state has cut $10.5 billion in the last three years – and because of the global recession, needs to make up for another $2 billion shortfall.
This time, however, she’s proposing alternatives to lawmakers that include raising revenue.
“I have heard from all four caucuses that we need to look at revenue, because they see the depths of the cuts,” Gregoire said. “What we have is the envy of other states and nations. We can and we must make sure that we don’t give it up.
An all-cuts budget would include cuts that the governor says she can’t stomach.
Those cuts include:
  • $49 million in cuts to the Basic Health Plan, ending health coverage to 35,000 people
  • Cutting four days from the school year and eliminating levy equalization for poorer schools
  • Shortening the time that 16,600 convicted criminals would be under supervision once released
  • Chopping another $160 million from colleges and universities
“Are we going to have a future for Washington state or not?” Gregoire said. “It’s time for this generation, our generation, to step up.”
Gregoire said she may be the first governor in the state to propose a referendum to the voters to raise revenue via a half-penny hike in the sales tax.
“I can’t live with these cuts. It’s not right for the state of Washington – we must stand up, we must unite, we must do what’s right … to buy a better future for Washington state.
Gregoire said the sales tax isn’t a perfect option, but it’s the best option.
“This is our calling,” she said. “This is our responsibility. We can build the future of Washington, and I believe we must. … We’re going to stand up to this challenge. We’re tough. It’s time to be tough, to unite, to stand up for Washington.” 
The governor’s full proposal and details can be found here.

To read this blog post in Spanish, click here.