Archive for October, 2011

Gregoire: Slashing budget by $2 billion is “dreadful”

By | October 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

Gov. Chris Gregoire is unveiling her preferred cuts budget now. Watch live on TVW.

“Another $2 billion in the hole and citizens will get a lot less of what they expect,” she said. “This morning, it’s not about cold, hard numbers: This is very personal. We’re talking about real Washingtonians.” She said these cuts will hurt many in the state, including seniors who won’t be able to afford prescriptions, those just out of prison with nowhere to go — tempted back into crime, a community corrections officer who worries about the safety of neighborhoods, and the homeless mentally ill who won’t be able to get help, among others.

“The people of our state are not spending. Businesses are not hiring. We need to cut $2 billion more,” she said. “We’re done with what I call the Pac-Man budgeting approach,” she said, where the state has taken bite after bite of budgets. Now, it’s time for full program eliminations. She said these cuts, on top of the $10 billion in cuts over the past three sessions, will hurt.

Gregoire was asked repeatedly about new revenue. She said she hasn’t done the work on revenue ideas, but she has been asked by all four caucuses about the issue.

Gregoire’s office just sent out a list of some of the cuts:
-  Eliminate the Basic Health Plan, ending subsidized health care to 35,000 low-income individuals.
-  Cut off medical services to 21,000 people enrolled in the state’s Disability Lifeline and ADATSA (Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Treatment Support Act) programs.
-  Trim 15 percent from the support the state provides to colleges and universities.
-  Reduce levy equalization, which helps property poor districts, by 50 percent.
-  Cut the length of supervision for all offenders, based on severity of offense. Sex offenders will be supervised for 24 months, and all other offenders, for 12 months.

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Former Sen. Alex Deccio dead at 89

By | October 26, 2011 | 0 Comments

Former Sen. Alex Deccio died yesterday — just a few days shy of his 90th birthday. Deccio served more than three decades in the House and Senate.

Secretary of State Sam Reed said he appreciated Deccio’s leadership in the Republican party. “Alex will be long remembered for his landmark work on the state AIDS bill, health-care legislation and his advocacy for the elderly and those with disabilities.  When we go to events in the Yakima Valley SunDome, we’ll remember his legacy. I will also fondly remember Alex for his ability to work with people from all walks of life and from all political perspectives – and his great sense of humor.”

I knew Alex even before he began his exemplary 32 years of service in the Legislature and his term as County Commissioner, and always appreciated his leadership in the Republican Party, and his moderate views and ability to work across the aisle for common sense and cost-effective solutions.

“Alex will be long remembered for his landmark work on the state AIDS bill, health-care legislation and his advocacy for the elderly and those with disabilities.  When we go to events in the Yakima Valley SunDome, we’ll remember his legacy.

“I will also fondly remember Alex for his ability to work with people from all walks of life and from all political perspectives – and his great sense of humor.

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State Sen. Scott White found dead

By | October 21, 2011 | 0 Comments

whiteSen. Scott White was found dead today in his room at the Suncadia resort, where he was attending a conference. The cause of death is not yet known for the husband and father of two, according to The Associated Press.

The Senate Democratic Caucus, of which White was a member of leadership, sent out a statement saying White will be remembered as “a trusted colleague and beloved friend.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire released a statement as well. “My heart goes out to the family of Senator Scott White tonight. Scott was a dedicated public servant and champion of important issues in Olympia. He was never afraid to tackle the difficult problems – and did so with a positive attitude, which I always appreciated. I found him to be an absolute pleasure to work with, and a legislator who served his district and the entire state well. He had a bright and promising future ahead of him. My family and I will keep Scott and his family in our thoughts and prayers.”

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Undecided on election issues? Here are some great resources.

By | October 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

If you’re not quite sure how you plan to vote on the three initiatives and two referenda on the ballot this year, there are some informative resources available for you to peruse.

First up, TVW’s Video Voters’ Guide. Listen to Tim Eyman tell you why he thinks you should vote for his tolling initiative — and then hear Doug MacDonald on why that’s inadvisable. All the initiatives and referenda are represented. For even more from supporters and opponents, read this summer’s series of Q&As on the initiatives right here.

Next, head to the Living Voters’ Guide. This online resource was put together by CityClub and the UW. On the interactive site, you can create a list of pros and cons for each issue — by choosing from an existing list or submitting your own — and decide where you stand. You can even save your opinions for future reference.

And, of course, don’t miss out on the Secretary of State’s Voters’ Guide, which is online and probably arriving at your doorstep soon.

Release R71 initiative signatures, U.S. District Court Judge rules

By | October 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle ruled today that Referendum 71 petition signatures are a public record — and cannot be exempted from it due to fear of retribution to those who signed the referendum on the state’s anything-but-marriage law.

For more details on the case, known as Doe v. Reed, go here. And for information on today’s ruling, visit Pete Callaghan’s post here.

This week’s Q&A: Senate budget writing chair Ed Murray

By | October 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

This week’s Q&A is with Sen. Ed Murray, the Seattle Democrat who chairs the Senate budget writing committee. Murray talked about the budget hearing earlier this week, where lawmakers got a sense of the cuts agencies are proposing. We also talked about taxes, same-sex marriage and more. Next week, I’ll speak with a Republican budget writer about the impending cuts.

murrayQ: Earlier this week, you heard some of the plans from state agencies for cutting 10 percent of their budgets. What are some of the elements that stood out the most?
Murray: Well, we have reached the point of — the cuts we’ve already made are fairly severe. But now we’re moving to the point of eliminating some pretty basic services that people depend on because they’re ill, because they’re disabled or because they’re old. So there are no sort of halfway measures left. This leaves only draconian choices.

Q: Are there any potential cuts you heard about that were particularly troubling?
Murray: You worry about some of the decisions we would make around the mentally ill. There are so many that stand out it’s hard just to pick one.
We’re looking at basic health care coverage, those sorts of things, assistance to immigrants, things like language interpreters for medical procedures. That pretty much cuts off the ability to someone to treat or someone who needs treatment.
Q: There has been talk about taxes. After what you heard earlier this week, are you convinced of the need of a revenue package?
Murray: I personally think we need to put revenue on the ballot and give voters a choice, but I don’t know if the votes are there in the Senate.

Q: Is that something you’re working on — getting support lined up for a potential package?
Murray: It certainly will be. To some extent, unless you’re actually in session it’s difficult to work some of these issues.

Q: At the hearing this week, you heard about the proposals to cut 10 percent — and yet, for many agencies, those cuts still don’t get you to $2 billion. How do you characterize the magnitude of this problem?
Murray: You know, it’s hard. When you ask voters, Should we have the services that state government provides like school, college, hep for families who have someone in their family who is disabled? They support it. (more…)

DSHS secretary Susan Dreyfus will leave at the end of the year

By | October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments

DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus will leave at the end of this year to lead Families International, Inc., the nonprofit parent organization of three national nonprofit organizations: Alliance for Children and Families, United Neighborhood Centers of America (UNCA), and Ways to Work. The group also inclues one for-profit company, FEI Behavioral Health.

DSHS is the largest state agency. In a statement sent out by Gov. Chris Gregoire, it says Gregoire is “expected” to name an interim replacement by the end of special session.

“I want to thank Governor Gregoire for the opportunity to serve in this beautiful state. I have come to love Washington and to respect and admire its people and those who have devoted their lives and their careers to public service,” Dreyfus said in the press release. “My life is forever blessed for the time I have spent here.”

Dreyfus, who was appointed to her current role in mid-2009, will continue to head the agency through the special session that starts Nov. 28.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said in the statement that her departure “is a loss to our state and to my team,” but that she understands and respects her personal and professional decision to return to Wisconsin.

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Former Gov. Al Rosellini dead at 101

By | October 10, 2011 | 0 Comments

Former Washington state Gov. Al Rosellini has passed away. He was 101.

I’ve posted statements and memories from Washington state elected officials and others after the jump. If you have a memory of Gov. Al Rosellini, e-mail it to nikir@tvw.org. (more…)

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Budget cuts, taxes, meth and more

By | October 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

This week, the blog’s been slow because I was filling in for Jessica Gao on The Impact. But now, in just about 30 minutes, you can catch up on the week’s news. Enjoy.