Gregoire is set to cut to the core

first_imgThe need to permanently downsize state government is a reality that Gov. Chris Gregoire has come to accept only reluctantly.Share your ideas on changing the budget at 2008, Gregoire and Democratic legislative leaders have used stopgap measures, including tapping federal stimulus dollars, borrowing from pension funds, slashing enrollment in the state’s Basic Health Plan by 40,000 and suspending voter-approved school funding initiatives, to plug a $12 billion hole.But as Gregoire explained to an audience of 400 at Clark College last week, what seemed like a temporary emergency in 2008 has now morphed into a semi-permanent situation. Reduced revenue and increased demand for services will leave the state in deficit at least through 2015, according to state revenue projections. And it’s unlikely the state will get bailed out by the federal government again anytime soon. Some Republican leaders, including state Sen. Joe Zarelli, R-Ridgefield, have been calling on the governor and the majority party since state revenue began to tank three years ago to set priorities and fund the core missions of government first.Now, midway through her second term, Gregoire says she’s ready to heed that advice.The governor is asking for help from state agency heads, a panel of 32 state leaders, and Washington citizens, including more than 1,200 who attended her first three budget forums around the state. People with ideas also are invited to contribute them via a special website, where they can also vote on other people’s suggestions for making state government leaner. In the 10 days since the site was launched, more than 1,700 ideas — from replacing out-of-town travel with video conferences to reducing ads for the state lottery to lifting the ban on export of state logs — have been submitted. Nearly 107,000 votes have been cast.last_img read more