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Gov. Chris Gregoire: State can’t be safety net anymore

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Nov. 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm with 22 Comments »
November 29, 2010 1:29 pm

The cuts Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered up last week are harsh. No one admits that more readily than Gregoire herself.

“We’re taking away people’s livelihood. We’re taking away their entire health care,” she told reporters today.

Some of the cuts would lead to layoffs in state government. That’s nothing new. But others would close down whole programs that provide social services to the disadvantaged. That’s something that has largely been avoided in two years of closing budget deficits by trimming, taxing and shuffling money between pots.

Under her suggestions to the Legislature, the state-subsidized insurance program known as the Basic Health Plan would end. So would state-funded health insurance for children and the program Disability Lifeline, which provides cash grants and medical treatment for people temporarily unable to work because of a disability.

“We’re supposed to be the ultimate safety net, and we can’t be it anymore,” Gregoire said.

“When they come, we’re not going to be able to help them.”

To eliminate those whole programs, though, Gregoire needs the Legislature’s sign-off. To have the maximum impact she wants, she needs it before Dec. 12. Gregoire wants to call a special session for December, but she is waiting for a response to her proposals from leaders of both parties in the House and Senate.

She may know by the end of the week whether legislators will agree to return to Olympia before their regular session starting Jan. 10.

Gregoire made the comments about the budget during a news conference announcing her order for the state to move almost entirely to so-called performance-based contracts. They are already increasingly common in state government, especially in the Department of Transportation. Contractors wouldn’t be paid until they show results.

Leave a comment Comments → 22
  1. tammiemyers says:

    Chris Gregoire Needs to be impeached!!!! She does not care about our state there are things she could cut lets state with her salary and parties she has.

  2. tacomajoe says:

    Get rid of health care for poor children or sight-seeing junkets to China and Germany? Hmmm… too bad for the little moppets!

  3. I agree the Gov could take less salary and she could get the workers to work Mon thru Wed and the other half work Wed thru Fri.
    I think that she need to lay off the 200 workers that will be tranfered to other prisons when they close down McNeil Island.
    The Stae workers should take a pay cut after all the people working out side the State agencys have to so that the company they are working for can stay alive.
    She needs to layoff people that have put in there years and then go back to the same position (DOUBLE DIPPING) without a lose in pay. the Social Security is talking about people maybe moved out further for retirement. The state needs to do the same thing.
    How Many people that are getting retirement from the State still live in this State?
    I would think alot have moved to States that they can live for a lot less.

  4. UnbiasedReporter says:

    “her order for the state to move almost entirely to so-called performance-based contracts.”

    Great idea – I say one of the first performance-based contracts be with the WEA

  5. lorenbliss says:

    As with Barack the Betrayer, so with Christine the Cruel — each living proof there is not one scintilla of difference between Democrats and Republicans; each administration a proclamation the American Experiment in constitutional democracy and the American Dream itself are dead beyond resuscitation; each a lethal demonstration of the New American Paradigm of government: absolute power and unlimited profit for the Ruling Class, total subjugation and genocidal poverty for the rest of us.

  6. duckfan4ever says:

    How about releasing non-violent people from our prisons and jails, and asking the Legislature to stop passing bills each session that create new crimes. We spend far more on “criminal justice” in this state than we should be spending, just so that the public can have an illusion of “safety,” and to satisfy what the Legislature seems to think is a craving for mean-spirited revenge by the voters. Folks, we just cannot afford to continue locking up non-violent “criminals.”

  7. colsprague says:

    She could eliminate her salary entirely and it wouldn’t have any impact at all on children’s healthcare. You’re talking pennies, not the enormous amounts that need to be trimmed thanks to voters stinginess with the purse strings earlier this month.

  8. Stop funding for undocumented and illegal aliens. Providing identifications, healthcare, education, and whatever else needs to stop. Big buck can be saved with these actions.

  9. I’m really going to upset some state workers here. I’m sorry but this is the way I see it. State workers should not be given any pay increases. Most people in the private sector have not received raises and many have had cuts. Medical insurance also costs more in the private sector. Our elderly on social security have not seen raises and medicare has been cut. In the private sector employees are being asked to work harder and more efficiently. From what I’ve seen a lot of state workers they aren’t as productive as the private sector. We also need to transfer state workers who will produce to divisions who hand out “the dole”. I think it would be found that many people who are receiving hand outs aren’t really entitled to them. I realize that many are but there is a lot of abuse in the system.

  10. GiveItaRest says:

    “We’re supposed to be the ultimate safety net…”

    Where is that spelled out in our state constitution?

  11. Rockcity52 says:

    As a State Employee I see many things that could be changed, or cut to save money. But these things are not done as they are either a pet project of someone or some other meaningless thought. Using recycled paper for the copiers. Yes it is good for the enviorment, but you pay almosty twice as much for it. Our buying contract don’t save money either. 50 cents for a roll of toilet paper that I can buy at Fred meyers or Walmart for 30 to 35 cents a roll. So many small things could be changedd and when added up it would well be a large amount.

    Cutting employees wages would be a smart thing versus they Temporary Lay Off Days that we have now. I would much rather give up a 1 or 2% cut each month than having my one paycheck with 8 hours of no pay. Because as hard as it is to believe as a State Employee I don’t live high on the hog. I live paycheck to paycheck like most people.

    I am willing to do my part to help, but all State Employees should do the same! If one State Employee gets a Temporary Lay Off Day then all should.

  12. GiveItaRest says:

    Why haven’t performance based contracts but rule, not the exception?

    Gregoire is a bit late as usual?

    While you’re at it, how about taking care of the waste in the ferry system. I know you don’t care because it’s legal waste, but you might want to change your position and do the right thing. After all, a lot of people are going to be deeply effected by your budget cuts.

  13. surveyor1 says:

    Its always the same thing with our state. The voters say no to more taxes in favor of making the govenor and legislature do their jobs and find the money by eliminating waste and cutting unecessary programs. But every time our esteemed govenor berates us and says if we don’t want to pay more taxes she is going to have to cut health care, education and public safety. How about doing your job govenor and take the time to sit down and really look at where the waste is. It’s your bloated state government. YOu want some ideas? How about not paying 81 million dollars for a ferry that can be built (and has) for 35 million. How about not building a brand new prision that now sits empty. How about not paying 2.5 million dollars for a failed noise reduction project in Seattle. I know, these ideas will only get you part way, but I am quite sure if you and the legislators took the time, you could find the rest. I guarantee you could easily trim the amount needed from our bloated state goverment.

  14. Thank you Rockcity52, it must be very frustrating to witness what you see, the red tape would go around the world before you could get changes. And thank you for doing your part. Surveyey1, I agree. Whenever we ask the budget to be cut we’re threatened with cuts that go to our hearts, same way with special levies. All this time there are places to be cut but our govt doesn’t want to do it that way, it takes work. Their motto is “appeal to all the bleeding hearts” and we won’t have to do the hard work.

  15. nwindependent says:

    how about looking at and revising state union contracts? Oops, the queen can’t do that, she is beholden to them for electing her to office.

  16. I just love reading comments from people that refer to the Governor as “mean”. Tell me what you or the Dinosaur would do? She can’t cut things item by item, piece by piece. It’s the law. She has to cut either whole programs or a State-wide percentage.
    This is the fault of Tim Eyeman and his idiotic tax-cutting agenda and out “no income tax” mentality.
    When the economy is in recession, the State is going to lose hundeds of millions of dollars because people aren’t buying big ticket items that generate sales tax income. If there is an income tax INSTEAD of a Sales Tax, the State has an income that stays somewhat level.
    Basic Health and the other programs are paid for with taxes. If there is less tax income, something has to go.
    I’m sure that those of you that are suggesting wage cuts for State employees would sing a different tune if it was YOUR wages that are being cut. And, anyone with half a brain knows that the Governor doesn’t make Union contracts. As for waste in government: if you are aware of waste, or fraud or theft, you have an obligation to report it and act upon it. Or are you folks just spouting off about something that doesn’t exist or is so small a problem that trying to correct it is a waste in itself?

  17. laborjoe says:

    Hard choices and facts need to be used here. I’m a stake holder on multiple levels. I work for UW, my wife is a teacher and our youngest is special needs.

    Before landing the teaching slot we used medicaid to cover our kids co-pays to keep them healthy.

    Honestly I think we need to look at things like taxing stock and bond transactions and some other tax ideas.
    Refusing to raise taxes in a state with a population that keeps growing is like cutting back to half time at work to adopt more kids.

    These drastic cuts will put more people on the streets-including disabled, mentally ill and convicted felons.

    What happens then? do things get better? We lay off state workers and more money goes out to cover unemployment while that much less comes in as tax revenue.

  18. laborjoe says:

    Got to come right back with facts Union contracts ARE being reworked dolt. As for ‘Threats to the heart” as a state employee I know first hand that there is only a tiny bit of fat on this governments bones-a few extra managerial positions here and there. It’s not like we have case workers to spare-the state has NEVER reached best practice levels in terms of line staffing in any agency. We have always made due with five people doing the work of seven (and that is considered a spoiled group).

    As for pay, even in bad times there are jobs that stay unfilled because the pay and benefits are too far behind the outside. Or if they are filled those people are first out the door when things pick up. To pensions-go read about them your self if you make it through 30 years of service and age 65 you get 60% of the average of your last five years of service AND you pay your entire medical out of pocket-which for many workers means they take home only 40% of what they were making. Therre is also the investment based PERS 3 which puts your money in the market and has very little impact on the budget.

  19. Still looking for someone to look, or admit having already done so, at ALL the new programs and entitlements or enhancements that came into existence within a few months of Gregoire taking office in early 2005 that were not in the budgets in 2004 and before. Those things instantly added 33% to the existing 2004 budget (going from $24 Billion to $32 Billion) and nobody said the poor and young were starving in the streets under the immediately preceding terms of Gary Locke.

    Gregoire’s 1 1/2 terms have generated a budget $8 Billion more than the last budget just before her arrival, by far outstripping what inflation and population increases would have added to existing programs and state operations. Identify the new stuff she added and get rid of it or roll it back to 2004 levels (plus inflation, which should be less than 8% over six years).

  20. I wonder how many rural voters know that the cost of the slightly cheaper pop and candy they voted for is the cut/elimination of their school levy equalization?

  21. fbergford says:

    tck512 well put!!

  22. newshound100 says:

    She asked for the job of Governor so govern ! She should have made these tough choices in 2005 . The real crime is getting so many to depend on government then pull the support away.

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