OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire signed most of the supplemental budget designed to keep Washington from slipping into red ink by June 30, using her veto pen for several sections that added back $6.4 million of spending.
She said she liked the Legislative spending plan better than the budget she proposed in December, because it saves several social programs she would have eliminated and cuts less from education. But those may be temporary reprieves, she warned.
“I don't want to suggest it will necessarily last for the next biennium,” Gregoire said. (For details on the budget, click here._
Among the sections vetoed were a provision to impose a 3 percent pay cut starting April 1 on state employees who aren't represented by organized labor. Union state employees face a similar reduction starting July 1, although it's not a straight pay cut but an agreement to work about 5 hours less per month, with corresponding drop in pay. The union agreement also spares those who make less than $30,000 a year from the cut, something the Legislature didn't do for non-union employees,.
“As the state's CEO, I have to treat my employees equally,” she said.
Gregoire also vetoed a provision to reduce the communications staffs in the executive branch by about $1 million, noting that a similar cut was not being ordered for legislative communication staffs, and a $1.7 million reduction proposed for the Department of Social and Health Services management, that she said would cost the state matching federal money and the department had already had a 27 percent cut in centralized administrative staff.