Governor Gregoire Calls for Special Session; $2billion in Cuts

This morning the Governor held a press conference to announce a special session in November.
A few notes on her comments:

  • Special Session of the Washington State Legislature will convene on November 28th.
  • Will begin shutting down entire services instead of a “pacman” approach that takes small bites out of services.
  • Gregoire: “There is no doubt I will hate this budget”.
  • Gregoire says 10% cuts across the board are inadequate.
  • Gregoire: Turn over slashed services to “voluntary agencies”.
  • Gregoire: Only 30 days, can’t pass a “patch”, need a full legislative agenda.
  • Gregoire: Wants deep cuts to ed that are sustainable
  • Gregoire: “Levy equalization” is “on the table”
  • Gregoire says “basic health plan” on the table for up to 23% cuts or elimination.

The full video of her comments will be available on TVW sometime today.  Here’s the press release:

 

For Immediate Release: September 22, 2011

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today announced that she will call legislators in for a special session, beginning Nov. 28, 2011. Her decision comes one week after Dr. Arun Raha, the state’s economist, lowered the state’s revenue forecast for the 2011–13 biennium by $1.4 billion.

“Congressional gridlock, the European debt crisis and high unemployment continue to take their toll on consumer confidence and our state’s economy,” Gregoire said. “Once again, we are facing a budget shortfall and once again I’m calling the Legislature back into special session to address the state’s budget. My only option is across-the-board cuts, and that option is unacceptable. Solving this budget crisis will require the Legislature to act.”

Raha is expecting another negative revenue forecast Nov. 17. Gregoire plans to tackle both negative revenue forecasts in one special session and hopes to finalize a budget with healthy reserves before Christmas. More than one month ago, Gregoire asked state agencies to detail how additional 5 to 10 percent cuts would affect their abilities to serve Washingtonians. She expects agencies to begin delivering those packages today.

If the Legislature approves a budget before the end of special session, Gregoire plans to spend the regular session focusing on policy bills to support job creation and economic growth.

“Let’s get this budget done right in one swoop well before Christmas and then turn our focus to supporting jobs and growing our economy,” Gregoire said.

 

 

Maj. Leader Brown and Budget Chair Murray’s statement on special session:
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and Sen. Ed Murray, the chair of the budget-writing Senate Ways & Means Committee, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Chris Gregoire’s call for a special session of the Legislature: 

“After the last state forecast lowered our revenue expectations by $1.4 billion, we discussed a special session with the governor. We expressed the need to develop a realistic plan to address the challenge, and we appreciate that the session will occur after the next revenue forecast in November.

“We are committed to making the most of the coming weeks to help find solutions. Before we reach a special session, we will work with the governor as she develops an initial proposal to bridge the budget gap. And we will continue to review alternatives and engage with our Republican colleagues as we seek responsible actions to balance our budget.

“Over three years, we have reduced public service levels across the board, from support for kindergarten education to supervision of offenders in our communities. As we approach special session, we must recognize that more cuts – however necessary mathematically – will impact Washingtonians, their families and their communities.

“As legislators, we have many tools for balancing our budget – including giving the voters the option of approving new revenue to pay for the services they want. We strongly encourage our colleagues in both parties, in the House and Senate, to avoid drawing lines in the sand and instead to arrive in Olympia in November prepared to offer solutions and to be ready to discuss all the possibilities.”

 

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