Monday, April 25, 2011

Gregoire and the Legislature (WA): "Cuts, not closings, used to close budget hole"

The Olympian (WA):
Last December, when an emotional Gov. Chris Gregoire announced a budget proposal even she said she hated, she proposed to lop whole limbs from government.

Largely, lawmakers didn’t take her up on the idea.

“I think the governor wanted to terminate; we were able to cut back,” said Sen. Steve Conway, a Tacoma Democrat who said the partial cuts would allow programs to rebound once the economy does.

Others, mostly Republicans, wanted the Legislature to make more permanent changes instead of “trying to continue to do everything at a lower level,” Rep. Bruce Dammeier said. “We are saying we need to prioritize for the future, which means we need to jettison some of the things,” the Puyallup Republican said.

Much remains to be decided on the state budget – eyes and ears are tuned to the special session of the Legislature that opens Tuesday and could run 30 days. The House and Senate spending plans both contain deep cuts to schools, services and the social safety net. But unlike Gregoire’s plan, neither of them would:

• Mothball the state history museums in Tacoma, Olympia and Spokane.

• End aid to people whose disabilities have left them temporarily out of work.

• Eliminate the program that subsidizes health insurance coverage for working adults who can’t afford it.

• Cut kids whose parents don’t prove their legal residency off of the rolls of children’s health insurance.

• Completely suspend bonuses for nationally certified teachers.

• Remove 3-year-olds from state-funded preschool. MORE...

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