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Eye On Olympia

We could not help but notice…

The “Education Governor’s” legacy took a hit last week, as Senate budget writers axed not one but two of former Gov. Gary Locke’s pet programs. They also pared down a third.

The Reading Corps, a program that matches struggling students with volunteer tutors, was eliminated completely in the Senate’s budget, saving $7 million over the next two years. Locke touted the program relentlessly, reading to schoolchildren frequently in front of news cameras and talking in interviews about how he and his wife read nightly to their children.

Also chopped: The state’s Promise Scholarship program, which gives college grants to top high school graduates. (Current recipients would still get their grants.) Savings: $12.6 million.

Lastly, the Senate trimmed $5 million in ongoing bonuses for teachers who attain national board certification, another pet project of Locke’s.

Locke told the Associated Press’ Dave Ammons that he was stunned by the cuts, which he thinks are unneccessary and unwise. All three programs are worthwhile, he said.

“I know how the budget situation is and that a lot of tough decisions have to be made,” Locke, now an attorney in private practice, told the AP. “But the facts speak for themselves.”

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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