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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Gregoire: Many questions about schools ruling

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Chris Gregoire says there are too many questions about last week's court ruling on the state's definition of "basic education" to say whether she supports an appeal.

Billions of dollars of state school funding could be at risk in the decision by a King County Superior Court Judge Johne Ehrlick that the state isn't living up to its consitutional responsibility to provide for basic education, Gregoire said at a press conference Monday.

But a final order has not yet been entered, and any decision on an appeal will wait until she talks with Attorney General Rob McKenna and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn.

"The attorney general has the ultimate decision-making authority here," said Gregoire, herself a former attorney general.

One question they have to discuss is whether a King County trial judge's decision should be taken to the state Supreme Court to be any order has statewide impact.

Some legislators  have signed a letter urging that the state not appeal the decision, but instead comply with Erlick's order. Gregoire declined to say how that would sway her decision, other than to say: "Ask them if they've read the decision."

For other comments from the press conference, go inside the blog:

The governor said:

She could support the current House of Representatives' version of constitutional amendment to hold some suspects of violent crimes without bail, even though it is more narrow than she proposed last month at the request of the law enforcement community. But the proposal is still subject to changes in the Senate, and she wants to see the final version.

"I don't want to walk away with nothing. I'm willing to consider waht they've done."

She opposes a House bill that would split up the Department of Social and Health Services, even though she herself has proposed splitting off the Medicare and Medicaid functions and giving that to the Health Department. Supporters of the House proposal say DSHS has become too large and unwieldy to  manage, but Gregoire said breaking it up while continuing to ensure that clients receive services would be costly, and she opposes it "when we are on a shoe string, financially."

She called for more federal help for local banks so they can loosen credit for local businesses. Seattle ranks first, and Tacoma fourth, among U.S. metropolitan areas with delinquent land acquisition and commercial loans.

She refused to take a position on the current proposal to suspend the supermajority needed for the Legislature to raise taxes, and make other changes to Initiative 960: "Do I think we need new revenue? Absolutely...Some sort of suspension of 960 is necessary."

But she's not sure how the bill that is scheduled for a vote in the Senate Tuesday will be changed before it reaches her desk.

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