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Posts tagged: state of the state

Gregoire to Lege: Don’t rest on your laurels

AP Photo

Editor's note: For those who found today's Live Blog of the Governor's state-of-the-state address a bit unorthodox or disjointed, here's the more standard approach to reporting the speech, which will appear in Wednesday's print edition of The Spokesman-Review:

OLYMPIA — In her last speech to a Legislature with which she sometimes fought, Gov. Chris Gregoire said they accomplished much over the last eight years, but still have much left to do.

Don’t rest on your laurels, she said on her last full day in office, give the state better schools and roads. And, in a message that may have little traction with her replacement or the Republican-dominated coalition that runs the Senate, she suggested they may have to raise taxes to get the important things done.

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog: 

WA Lege Day 2: Gregoire’s final speech

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire gives her final state of the state address this morning to a joint session of Congress in what might be regarded as “speech week.”

There were speeches yesterday for the opening day of the Legislative session, and there will be an inaugural address tomorrow after Jay Inslee is sworn in as the new governor.

Today's speech will have all the usually trappings of a state-of-the-state, with a ceremonial entrance of senators into the House chamber and dignitaries in the gallery.

Later today, the House Government Accountability and Operations Committee gets an update on liquor privatization and, as Dr. Phil would say “how's that working for you?”

State of State: GOP skeptical on oil fee

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposal to place a $1.50 per barrel fee on oil produced in Washington state got a cold reception from Republican leaders.

Speaking at a press conference after the State of the State address and Republican response, House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis said it could create construction jobs, but it would also hurt consumer and raise the cost of doing business in Washington.

Senate GOP budget leader Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield also questioned whether it is truly a fee, as Gregoire says, or a tax. As proposed, it seems to have no constitutional protection, as the gasoline tax does, that would require it to be spent only on road projects, he said.

The question of tax or fee is an important one, because a fee can be passed with a simple majority, which Democrats have in both chambers. A tax must be passed with a two-thirds majority in both houses, which has proved unattainable in recent years.

Republicans said they would raise that question in the Senate with Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who presides over the chamber and rules on that issue.

Start of the speech: Remembering those no longer around

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire's state of the state address begins with a moment of silence for people who died over the last year:

State Sens. Bob McCaslin, Alex Deccio and Scott White.

Former Gov. Al Rosellini.

Nine members of the Armed Services from Washington state who died in Iraq or Afghanistan.

And U.S. Park Ranger Margaret Anderson, who was killed at Mount Rainier National Park last week.

WA Lege Day 2: Gregoire to state the state of state

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire will tell a joint session of the Legislature the “state of the state”, which chances are she'll say is struggling.

What? You thought she'd say everything was just peachy? You have not been paying attention. She'll likely list many of the things she thinks the state will have to end because it can't afford them any more, with a caveat that if the folks in the chamber have a better idea, she's all ears.

And she'll likely say that tough times are also times of opportunity, and lay out many of the changes she's  unveiled over the last few weeks, like consolidating some state offices and services beefing up education, going after more jobs.

Speech is at noon, and can be watched live on TVW if you have cable, or online right here.

After the speech, Republican leaders will have a press conference to offer their response.

Other than the speech/response, both chambers have a full schedule of hearings. House appropriations committees and the Ways and Means Committee will be getting briefed on Gregoire's proposals for cuts to the final six months of this biennium and for the 2011-13 biennium. Other committees will be looking at everything from pesticides to child product safety.

Serious days ahead — Gregoire

“Too many familes today are getting layoff notices. Watching unpaid bills pile up. Losing health care…” Gov. Chris Gregoire told the Legislature. “Let’s not waste their time or the crisis.”

“Let’s provide the decisive, compassionate leadership Washingtonians want and deserve.”

Rounds of applause, and the governor is being escorted out.

Leave politics to the elections, solve the problems—Gregoire

Big round of applause on both sides of the aisle for this line:

“Let’s leave the partisan politics to elections. Washingtonians hate how divided things have become. They just want us to solve problems.”

“Our communities are safer” — Gregoire

Communities are safer because the state gave law enforcement help to deal with sex offenders. Highways are safer because of tough DUI enforcement.

But more needs to be done, Gov. Chris Gregoire said.

“Our families aren’t safe…when a man convicte of the brutal murder of an elderly woman disappears on a field trip to a county fair,” Gregoire said in listing several problems in the state in 2009. She said she’ll propose a package of bills “to hold offenders accountable…and give more weight to law enforcement and criminal histories when making commitment decisions.”

Cuts, taxes and federal aid—Gregoire

“Later today I will present a budget I can support. It counts on new revenue of about $750 million and cuts of almost $1 billion. The revenue will come from new federal dollars, new taxes or both,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said.

“We mujst have a responsible, balanced approach of painful cuts and new revenue.”

She also wants early learning for all three and four-year-olds in the state, all-day kindergarten.

“Lift the levy lid and fund levy equalization,” she said.

And come up with a new evaluation system for teachers, she added. For schools with high dropout rates, poor student performance and no progress, “we need to be able to step in and turn them around.”

Gregoire: Instead of all those cuts…

After ticking off the effects of the cuts she proposed in December, Gov. Chris Gregoire suggested the long-term costs would be too high.

We can make cuts that will write off a generation of kids…

We can make the cuts and waita for higher dropout rates and all the soaring social costs…

We can cut costs and transfer higher medical costs to our doctors, hospitals and insured families…

Budget reflects our values — Gregoire

Gov. Chris Gregoire says her December budget was balanced, but “unfair, unwise.”

It eliminates hospice care 2,500 patients, maternity care for 50,000 at-risk moms, eliminates health care for 70,000 individuals, 16,000 children, early learning for 1,500 kids, does away with all-day kindergarten, college aid for 12,300 students.

“That’s not wise.”

Make agencies accountable

State residents “don’t want to drive across town to brick-and-mortar government offices,” Gov. Chris Gregoire says. She wants more online applications, computer kiosks to apply for permits.

Department of Licensing is closing or modifying 26 offices.

Different state agencies are sharing data, using one scientist to do studies, than share results.

“It’s time to peel away the outdated and costly layers of government thaat we once needed but no longer do.”

She wants to eliminate 79 boards and commissions, reduce or eliminate a third of the 64 small state agencies.

She also wants to consolidate the state’s Growth Management Boards, now three, down to one.

And she wants to close or reduce 10 institutions. She didn’t mention any by name, but staff have said one is Pine Lodge Corrections in Medical Lake.

‘On the cusp of a new economy’

Jobs will come from the growth industries of the new economy, Gov. Chris Gregoire says.

Citizens “definigtely don’t want business as usual from government. They want real government reform, real service improvement and more value for their tax dollar…

“They want us to make the tough choices…Jobs are the way out of this recession.”

Gregoire: “an incredibly challenging year.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire welcomed the Legislature back to work with a less than cheery outlook for the state, its economy and its citizens.

“It’s an understatement to say this year will be incredibly challenging,” she said in her opening remarks after greeting state officials and justices, and noting the presence of her husband, Mike and daughter Michelle.

She noted the loss of seven law enforcement officers and 13 military members from the state in 2009, calling it an “unspeakable tragedy.” Later in the speech, she’s expected to propose some changes to pension laws to allow the families of fallen law enforcement officers to qualify for pensions and free college tuition, regardless of the length of service.

“These Washingtonians gave their lives so we could have safer communities and a secure nation,” she said. “For them and theri families, we have a duty this session to help build a better future.”

State of the state: Senators filing in

State senators are filing into the House chambers for the “state of the state” speech to a standing ovation from the state reps.

Any bets on whether this is the nicest the two chambers will be toward each other for the next 59 days.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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