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Gregoire won’t propose, but no longer opposes, tax hikes to lessen budget cuts

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Sep. 29, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
September 29, 2009 2:27 pm

During a sit-down with statehouse reporters today, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she is willing to listen to proposals from the state’s hospitals and Legislative Democrats about taxes.

Unlike last session when Gregoire said she thought any tax hikes would lengthen and worsen the economic recession, the Democratic governor said that might not be the case now. That’s because state economist Arun Raha said the state – and nation – are pulling out of the recession.

Despite that glimmer of good news from Raha, tax collections are still down and the Legislature faces up to $1 billion in additional cuts when it meets in January. That’s to a $30 billion state budget and unlike last year there won’t be federal stimulus money to make it easier.

“It’s solely up to us,” she said.

Gregoire said she didn’t favor any tax hikes last session, “because I couldn’t figure out a way to do it without hurting the economy. But now I told (legislative) leadership to come make your case.”

Gregoire said another round of cuts will do further damage to social services, schools and higher education.

“At some point people will say they don’t want any more cuts,” Gregoire said.

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