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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Governor Gregoire: State must raise revenue; all cuts budget in 2010 not an option

It looks like the Governor Gregoire that we know and love - the courageous governor who's not afraid to stand up to Tim Eyman and conservative editorial writers - it looks like that governor, at long last, is finally back in action.

Minutes ago, at Senator Jeanine Kohl-Welles' sixteenth annual post-election analysis fundraiser, Gregoire declared emphatically that cuts cannot be the only answer to the $2.6 billion shortfall the state is facing. "It's not an option," Gregoire said firmly, to rousing cheers and applause from assembled Democrats.

Gregoire acknowledged in her remarks that half-measures and shortcuts won't work anymore. And she's absolutely correct. If it was easy, the Legislature already did it last session. Now, with nothing left to cut but bone, it is absolutely critical that we raise revenue to protect our essential public services from destruction.

Here's a transcript of what Gregoire said:
GOVERNOR GREGOIRE: I come tonight - I got to run and do something else - but I wanted to reflect a little bit about the last election. And first, to say thank you, King County, for Dow Constantine, a great partner for us [in the statehouse]. And a big thank you to the City of Seattle for giving us a great mayor in Mike McGinn. Thank you.

You know... We got some tough times. There was a familiar name that sponsored something on our last ballot. [Booing and hissing from audience]. And the people of the State of Washington resoundingly said, We're not going to stay in a recession for the rest of our life... A big fat NO to 1033, thank you! [Applause]

And you know what? We're the only state in the nation - the only state in the nation! - that has gone to the ballot and said no to discrimination, yes to equality, all families will be protected, Approve 71, thank you!

I had a conference call with some of my Democratic colleagues, and I said, I am proud to be a Washingtonian, folks! Thank you very much for what you did on R-71 and making it happen for the great State of Washington.

It goes without saying... today has not been my best day. It goes without saying... the last week has not been my best week. We had a shortfall that we found last Friday from our forecast and caseload that took us down $300 million, and with reasons that we can all understand. People need healthcare, people need services, they need the social serivce net. Today we found our revenue forecasts down $760 million. It's a billion dollars in one week.

Now, I gotta explain, if I can, a little bit about the budget so that you can explain it to the sixty three percent of Washington State who doesn't understand the dire consequences of a budget like what we have. Seventy percent of our state budget is untouchable. It's basic education, protected by the Constitution; it's Medicaid, protected by federal law. So only thirty percent - only thirty percent - is available for us to find any cuts. That thirty percent is nine billion dollars. We have a $2.6 billion shortfall. That puts it in perpsective.

Over two years we have lost twelve billion dollars out of a thirty one billion dollar budget. We are in the worst times that we have seen in eighty years. So as I said to my staff today when the forecast came in: Eighty years, and I picked now to be governor of the State of Washington. [Laughter]

But you know what? I gotta tell you, if it was ever a time to have a Democratic governor, a Democratic House, and a Democratic Senate, now is the time, in the worst recession of the history of the State of Washington, [Applause] because we care, we have values, and we're not going to let it get us down!

By law, on December 8th, I will produce for you a budget. That budget has to live within revenue. It will be nothing like you have ever seen in your life. Last Saturday, we spent the day trying to find budget cuts. Let me give you a flavor for the day. At one point we were looking at pediatry services, and asking ourselves, Should we cut that funding? I ask what the consequence would be. And the answer was, more people will have amputations.

I ask, what would be the consequences of cutting those developmentally disabled who are aging out of foster care. The answer was, they'll go homeless.

Those are the kind of consequences to our budget. It's one thing to talk about, you can shut down all of higher education - all our four years, our research insitutitons, our community and technical colleges - and still not make up the whole. You can shut down all of corrections, and still not make up the whole.

But you know what? It's not about numbers. It's about real human beings. Behind those numbers, my friends, are kids who want a education so they can get out and get a good job or go to college. Behind those numbers are kids who want the doors to higher education open to them for training in their field or for a PhD.

Behind those numbers are families who are looking for a safety net because they have lost everything. They may have lost their job and their healthcare; they're looking for food on the table and a roof over their heads.

Behind those numbers are our senior citizens who need access to a nursing home.

So I tell you: An all cuts budget is not the value of the people of the State of Washington. We must step up, do our responsibility to this State, and look for revenue to get the job done. [Sustained cheers, applause]

It will not be easy. There are three editorials - Vancouver, Walla Walla, and Yakima - today. Give 'em a shout out: They're wrong! We cannot live, that's not the values of the people of the State of Washington.

We need to stand up, we need to be proud. Let me just share with you... I have read more about the Great Depression in the last year than I have in my entire life. And I know one thing: Turning our back on the most needy, it's not the people of the State of Washington. Turning our back on education and healthcare does not represent the people of the State of Washington. Turning our back on economic opportunities for tomorrow does not represent the people of the State of Washington.

So I'm asking you to join with us: Go out there and fight and educate. Make it clear: We'll take cuts, we have to, we know that, every family is doing it. But we cannot allow our most fragile to go without. We cannot shut the doors to higher education. We cannot turn our backs on our kids' ability to get an education in our K-12. We cannot turn people away from healthcare.

It is time for Washington State to stand up, to stand behind its values, get back to work, look out for our friends, our neighbors, look out for that stranger down the street or someone we don't know.

I'm asking you from the 36th and the wannabes in the 36th, stand behind us this next legislative session. Let's get the job done, let's work together, let's show America what real leadership is about, right here in Washington State. Thank you all.

[The Governor exited to a standing ovation]
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler - who sat next to each other as part of the panel - both agreed that the Legislature has no choice but to raise revenue. The alternate is the desutruction of essential public services that Washingtonians rely on in their daily lives. We simply won't recover from this recession if we cut off our most vulnerable.

The Legislature should have acted earlier to raise revenue. We were very disappointed with the choices made by House and Senate Democrats in the 2009 session. It's a relief to hear Governor Gregoire promising to fight for our common wealth. For us, fighting back against Tim Eyman is difficult enough: We need a champion who is willing to on offense to protect our common wealth.

So we say, thank you, Governor, for renewing your commitment to progressive ideals. Now, go out and execute, and we will be beside you every step of the way.


Blogger 6sigma said...

Just exactly how much blood do you idiots think they can take from us "stones" before even the middle class can't afford to live anymore?
You enthusiastically proclaim the "courageous" Governor is back because she is willing to raise revenue (I.E. TAXES) In fact, she's taking the cowards way out. It's easy to raise taxes. It's hard to acknowledge the excessive, wasteful spending going to cronies AND stopping it FIRST.
Time and again, this site and other "progressives" have sounded off against spending cuts. Your argument has been that the cuts are schools, police, and fire service. That's exactly the cowardly way Gregoire gets you riled.
If Gregoire and you were truly courageous and interested in what's best for the WHOLE state, not just your gravy trains, You would loudly exclaim, "No more tax and fee increases until the waste, fraud and abuse stops!"

November 20, 2009 5:11 PM  

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