Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gregoire releases budget plan

Governor Chris Gregoire has released her budget plan. There's a lot to consider, but first, here's some quick highlights from The Spokesman-Review:
The first-term Democrat says her top priority remains education.

Gregoire wants to pour more than $2 billion more into public schools, expanding voluntary all-day kindergarten in high-poverty areas, boosting teacher pay, promoting math and science learning, shrinking class sizes and increasing special education programs. Her school construction proposal - $809 million – would be the largest in state history.

Gregoire is also pushing about $1.5 billion in raises for state workers, particularly in hard-to-fill jobs like prison guards and nurses, and billions of dollars more for transportation projects throughout the state.

Other big-ticket items: Puget Sound cleanup, more buildings and student slots at the state’s colleges, more health care for children, a two-year freeze on community college tuition and a cap on tuition hikes at the state’s four-year schools.
NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve had this to say in a news release sent to Washington media outlets:
"Taxes are really public investments in our future. Voters are sick and tired of the rhetoric of right wing demagogues who attack our elected leaders for the courage to put together a budget that backs up our vision with real action. NPI has this message for our Governor and state legislators: Keep doing what you've been doing. Keep investing. It's working and voters like the leadership they're seeing."
For too long this state has ignored infrastructure. The damage from that neglect, caused by the knee-jerk political pandering of Republicans and short-sighted initiatives, is going to take a long time to repair. For crying out loud, the 520 bridge is in terrible, terrible shape.

But we have to start now. Sure, there will be negotiating, jockeying and criticism of Gregoire's proposal--that always happens. But the main focus, funding things that are truly vital to our future economy, is clear. It's a sound budget proposal, and now the process will proceed in the Legislature, with all its give and take.

Since Democrats have large majorities in each chamber, that debate is going to often be between Democrats. Some will try to paint normal, healthy debates as division, but that would be a mistaken analysis.

Various views of ideology, regional needs and personal expectations will come into play, and even if debates become a tad heated at times, we're confident that our strong legislative leadership will forge a strong package in the end.

So enjoy the holidays, legislators, starting in January you've got a lot of work to do.

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