Goodbye Basic Health Plan, the Children’s Health Program and the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Hello to tuition hikes and public-employee pay cuts. Gov. Chris Gregoire has begun rolling out her two-year budget proposal for the Legislature this morning, and it’s a plan she says she would not sign “in any other time.”
The 2009-11 biennial proposal calls for major cuts to bridge a $4.6 billion shortfall. The 40-page highlights summary suggests more than $1 billion of that gap is made up through public school funding cuts and diversions of school construction money and $345 million more from higher education despite tuition increases.
It appears the health and human service safety net also is taking a shredding with elimination of the Basic Health Plan, the Disability Lifeline, Children’s Health Insurance Program, the State Food Assistance Program that assists food banks with commodities, the child-support pass through for welfare families, medical interpreter services and numerous other allotments that had been a fixture of budgets for years.
She also would close the state historical museums in Tacoma and Spokane, and she proposes to shut the Maple Lane juvenile prison at Grand Mound by June 30 next year.
The list goes on in a drum roll that would tire the arms of a robot.
Gregoire said in her written message to the public: “It’s difficult to support something that goes against all we have accomplished over the last six years. But these are the circumstances we find ourselves in, and we have been left with few choices.”
MORE: Here’s the developing AP story.
Quotes from the governor’s press conference.