Gov. Gregoire finalizes Washington State budget

Gov. Chris Gregoire Tuesday signed a supplemental budget that aims to fund critical state programs while implementing new reform measures to streamline and reduce state government.

“This budget is a fair mix of cuts and revenue that ensures our most vulnerable receive the services they need, our young learners get the education required to be successful and productive, and our communities remain safe and protected,” Gregoire said. “Despite our difficult economic times, we managed to protect many core services that Washingtonians value, and at the same time reduce and streamline state government. That’s something to be proud of.”

Despite a $2.8 billion dollar deficit, Gregoire applauded state lawmakers for developing a budget that maintains several critical state programs, including the state’s Basic Health and State Need Grant programs. The budget also addresses several of the governor’s priorities, including job creation and reform.

“This budget includes significant strategies to put people back to work,” Gregoire said. “We have the potential to create more than 70,000 jobs over the next five years with this budget through tax incentives, green building enhancements and rural construction projects. Additionally, this budget goes a long way to reforming the way state government works, and I applaud the Legislature for that. They had the courage to reduce state spending by eliminating nearly 70 boards and commissions, close institutions and consolidate programs and agencies to increase efficiency.”

Gregoire vetoed some sections of the budget, including the provisions that would have put the Insurance Commissioner in the red and stripped the Life Sciences Discovery Fund of funding. Gregoire also vetoed 26 of the 52 reports assigned through legislation to the Executive Branch. Combined with vetoes to the Legislature’s revenue package — the state’s ending fund balance is now expected to be approximately $453 million.

Overall, the state’s $2.8 billion deficit was filled by a combination of $747 million in cuts, $618 million in federal funding and $757 million in new revenue. This is on top of actions the state took to solve the $9 billion shortfall the state faced last year, which included $4.4 billion in cuts.