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Gregoire Unveils Frugal Supplemental Budget

Austin Jenkins
12/19/2007

Frugal is the word of the day. At least that's how Washington Governor Chris Gregoire describes her supplemental budget proposal. This is the update to the state's two–year spending plan. But critics on the left and the right are already criticizing the governor. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has the story.

TRANSCRIPT

WASHINGTON STATE HAS AN ESTIMATED ONE–POINT–FOUR BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET SURPLUS. BUT GOVERNOR GREGOIRE, A DEMOCRAT UP FOR RE–ELECTION, IS RESISTING THE TEMPTATION TO SPEND IT. INSTEAD SHE'S UNVEILED A SUPPLEMENT TO THE TWO–YEAR BUDGET THAT CALLS FOR SAVING 85–PERCENT OF THE SURPLUS – SOME OF IT IN A NEW CONSTITUTIONALLY-PROTECTED RAINY DAY FUND.

GREGOIRE: "I think there is an absolute acknowledgement that while there's lots of reason to spend more money that based on what's happening nationally with the national economy and what we're seeing here with regard to housing construction that this is the time for us to develop a frugal budget."

THAT'S WHY THE GOVERNOR IS PROPOSING TO ONLY SPEND ABOUT A HUNDRED AND FORTY FIVE MILLION EXTRA DOLLARS NEXT YEAR. SOME OF THAT MONEY WILL GO TO FLOOD–RELIEF PROJECTS. THE GOVERNOR ALSO HAS A SERIES OF ELECTION–YEAR SAFETY INITIATIVES – INCLUDING ONE TO IMPROVE CAMPUS SAFETY IN THE WAKE OF THE VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTINGS.

TEACHERS WILL GET A BIT OF A RAISE. BUT IT'S NOT ENOUGH SAYS MARY LINDQUIST, PRESIDENT OF THE WASHINGTON TEACHER'S UNION. SHE ACKNOWLEDGES THAT LAST YEAR THE GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATURE PONIED UP A LOT MORE FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION – ROUGHLY NINE–HUNDRED DOLLARS PER STUDENT.

LINDQUIST: "Even given that investment we're falling behind other states. We simply have to step–up to the paramount duty and fully fund education. That includes restoring the Dino cuts and that includes lowering class size."

THE DINO CUTS REFER TO REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE DINO ROSSI – WHO SERVED AS SENATE BUDGET CHAIR A FEW YEARS BACK. ROSSI IS UNAPOLOGETIC ABOUT HOLDING THE LINE ON SPENDING. HE SAYS GREGOIRE HAS PRESIDED OVER A THIRTY–THREE PERCENT INCREASE IN THE STATE BUDGET SINCE TAKING OFFICE.

ROSSI: "What Christine Gregoire has put together is a budget that is going to produce a sizeable deficit for the next governor to face. If you look at the budget deficit that's coming it's going to be well over 600–million by their own account. But I think it's going to be much bigger than that by the time we get to it."

EVEN GREGOIRE ADMITS HER BUDGET OFFICE PROJECTS A DEFICIT IN THE NOT TOO DISTANT FUTURE. BUT SHE DEFENDS HER BUDGET STRATEGY AS A BALANCE BETWEEN SMART INVESTMENTS FOR THE FUTURE AND SAVINGS FOR A RAINY DAY. THE LEGISLATURE WILL TAKE UP THE BUDGET ISSUE WHEN IT CONVENES IN JANUARY. I'M AUSTIN JENKINS IN OLYMPIA.

© Copyright 2007, KPLU

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