On this week’s edition of “Inside Olympia,” host Austin Jenkins interviewed the candidates for governor, Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna. They talked about the controversy over The Seattle Times’s pro-McKenna ads, climate change, the environment, transportation and Medicaid expansion. Watch the full show below:
Yesterday, Gov. Chris Gregoire had some harsh words for legislators: Get some work done or she’ll start vetoing their bills. Here’s the full video:
Gov. Chris Gregoire is mad — and she’s ready to do whatever it takes to get lawmakers to pass a budget. She said as much while answering media questions after her afternoon bill signing. She said the budget released this morning will not get the Legislature out of special session. “Twenty-five, 50 and 1,” she said, referring to the vote count in the Senate, House and her signature needed to end special session.
She said she negotiated with legislators this morning before the press conference and Republicans didn’t bring up some of the budget ideas they presented just an hour later. She called the press conference to unveil the budget “theatrical.”
“They did, under sufficient pressure, move to the Democrats’ position” of no cuts to education, she said. “Yay.” She said this morning she told lawmakers that she would not sign a budget that has more than $80 million in reversions, which she said spends the same dollar three times. She said the budget unveiled this morning has about twice that amount.
She said the budget has “still got the myth of we’re going to skip a payment … you skip a payment in pensions and it costs you about $400 million in the long haul. Last time I checked: gimmick.” She said she’s happy that the budget doesn’t cut K-12 or higher education.
“There has to be trust in the room. This does not advance trust in the room,” she said. She added that budget negotiators are scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. tomorrow. “If they don’t get something done here, I’m going to start trickling out vetoes. Maybe that will get their attention.”
A reporter commented that the Governor appeared mad. “I am mad,” she said, adding that legislators need to stop negotiating in the press, “get your jobs done and then go home,” she said.
“I’m not putting fault on anybody… I’ve been restrained, I have been complimentary, I have negotiated in good faith. Time’s up,” she said. “My frustration level is as high as it gets.” She said “suddenly putting charter schools” in their latest proposal is not helpful. “I promised to veto it… get over it.”
Here’s Jessica Gao’s interview with Gov. Chris Gregoire from this morning. Hear what she has to say about a possible budget deal, special session and more:
Gov. Chris Gregoire just released this statement:
“This is truly a historic day in Washington state, and one where I couldn’t be more proud. With today’s vote, we tell the nation that Washington state will no longer deny our citizens the opportunity to marry the person they love. We tell every child of same-sex couples that their family is every bit as equal and important as all other families in our state. And we take a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“I commend our House members and thank Rep. Jamie Pedersen for sponsoring this bill. Our legislators showed courage, respect, and professionalism. I look forward to signing this piece of legislation, and putting into law an end to an era of discrimination.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire is delivering her final state of the state speech now to a joint session of the House and Senate. They’re also joined by the Supreme Court and other elected officials. Watch live on TVW, and refresh this post for updates throughout the speech. (After this, we’ll be covering the Republican response.)
“While our challenges are unprecedented, so, too, are our opportunities,” she said, adding that Washington knows how to turn challenge into opportunity. “Many believe that government is the whole problem, and many believe that it’s the whole solution. But that’s not our Washington,” she said, adding that here, people understand that safe communities and good schools are critical, but that government can’t do it all.
She said Washington needs to “win in the turns,” meaning hit the accelerator while others are breaking. “It’s now up to us. This is our time. Our time to win in the turn, our time to build a better future for our children and grandchildren,” she said. To that end, she’s asking for four things: 1. That the Legislature quickly passes a budget. 2. Ask voters this spring to approve a temporary half cent sales tax. 3. Pass school reforms. 4. Pass a major transportation and jobs package.
“First, let’s solve the budget problems,” she said. She said since the Recession began, the Legislature has “cut and cut and cut.” She said some states are talking about reforms, but Washington has made big changes. “We’ve made our pension system one of the five most sustainable in the United States,” she said, as one example. “One of the fastest growing, biggest and most complicated drivers of our budget is healthcare,” she said, adding that reforms passed already have helped contain costs.
“While we must cut and reform again, we must also realize that this problem demands a courageous solution. We must look for new revenue for the state of Washington,” she said.
“I ask you to send to voters a temporary, three-year, half-cent sales tax” to save “vital services,” she said. “We are about to shred very core services. It is time for all of us here in this chamber to stand up for Washingtonians.” She said she knows the sales tax is regressive, but making further cuts to the safety net will be even more regressive. (more…)
Gov. Chris Gregoire, unveiling her education reforms, said the current evaluation system for teachers and principals isn’t working. She’s proposing a new, four-tiered plan where low-performing teachers and principals can be fired if they don’t improve over a set period of time.
She said as with any profession, sometimes teachers or principals “just aren’t cut out” for teaching, and the state should work harder to weed out the field. “We owe it to our kids,” she said. She said modest funding would need to accompany this plan so that schools could be trained on how to effectively implement the new evaluation system.
Another reform idea: Take six lowest-performing schools and turn them into “lab schools.” Each low-performing school will partner with an area college of education, responsible for turning around the schools.
She’s also proposing an “Office of Student Achievement,” a cabinet-level office to be created in July 2012. “The office will focus on students in high school through graduate school,” and focus on raising the level of learning.
“These are reforms with real outcomes,” she said. “These reforms will help our kids and our businesses in the years ahead,” she said. And when the recession is over, Washington students will be prepared for the job market.
To read the governor’s press release on the proposals, click through to the jump. (more…)
Gov. Chris Gregoire’s take on taxes, the budget, protests and more — exclusive interview from The Impact
On tonight’s edition of The Impact, I talk with Gov. Chris Gregoire about her tax proposal, the state budget, special session, her thoughts on the Occupy protests at the capitol – and much more. We didn’t have time to air the entire interview on the show, so I’m posting the full, unedited version here.
But don’t miss tonigh’ts show: We’ve also got more on the protests, an on-set interview and news from the first week of this 30-day special session. You can watch at 7 and 10 p.m. on TVW.
Gov. Chris Gregoire began her budget roll-out by saying it’s been a “grueling” process for her entire staff and others in state government.
She said this budget contains cuts that “makes life even harder for our disabled, our mentally ill and our students.” She said she never thought that three years after the start of the Great Recession, she never thought she’d still be making cuts. “I expected by now we’d be investing more in our schools and our universities.”
But: Things are still looking grim. “While our revenues are down, those things that we absolutely have to fund are up,” she said.
Some of the cuts today: Basic Health care is one, prisons are closed, “we have shredded our social safety net.” Furthermore: Universities are cut, community colleges are cut.
She said this budget leaves $600 million in reserves because the budget still won’t be in the clear after this round of cuts.
“The truth is, the number of people not getting what they need from state government is growing and growing dramatically,” she said.
But she’s also offering another plan: “Today I’m asking the voters of the state of Washington for a temporary half penny sales tax increase,” she said, that will be invested in three specific areas — education, long-term care and developmental disability services, and public safety.
“One half penny … that’s what I’m asking for,” she said. She’s also providing other proposals for additional revenue to the legislature, some of which would require a two-thirds vote (tax increases) and others that would require a simple majority (fees).
When compared to personal income, revenue has dropped in Washington since 1997 and the half-penny sales tax would generate $411 million for education, $42 million for the elderly and disabled and $41 million for public safety.
“For the last three years, we’ve done what we had to do,” she said, “Now it’s time for us to stand and unite for our future… I know in my heart and in my head that this is the right thing to do for our state. We cannot compromise our values: We’re better than that.”
Now, for questions and answers: (more…)
Gov. Chris Gregoire says she’s calling a special session to begin on Nov. 28. Why that date? “We need to get a budget done well before Christmas,” she said, but they also need the benefit of seeing the November revenue forecast.
“I have met with all four caucus leaders and all four budget leaders,” she said. She’s asking them all to work together. “Let’s do what we did last session so effectively,” she said, so in January, lawmakers can roll up their sleeves and try to find ways to spur job growth.
“Over the next week, I will provide our Legislature with the 10 percent reductions” requested from state agencies, she said. “However, let me be clear, not even that is enough to get us out of the hole,” she said.
“Our work will be brutal,” she said, but she’s not asking the Legislature to start from scratch: She’ll provide a “road map” with some proposed cuts. “Everything has to be on the table,” she said, including public schools, universities, social services and more. “We cannot take … a Pac-Man approach to the budget. We can’t just keep taking little bites out of one program, little bites out of one service,” she said. Instead, the state will have to admit there are some things it cannot do.
She said the $2 billion in cuts will come from $8.7 billion in areas where the state can actually make cuts. The remainder of the budget constitutes debt repayment and other mandatory spending. “Everything over which we have legal discretion … there will be those who disagree with us,” she said, and may file a lawsuit, but in her opinion the state can cut from social services, healthcare, education and corrections. “Those are the only places where there’s any real amount of money to get to $2 billion.”
She said she wants this done and finished before the next regular legislative session begins in January. “Let’s reserve the 2012 session to work on the policies that will help our economy,” she said.
What about taxes? “Premature. I won’t take anything off the table, I’ve asked them not to, so I won’t,” she said. “I’m not talking revenue now… I will take nothing off the table at this point.”
Why not start now? “We’re doing exactly what would be done if we came into legislative session in 2012. We’re doing it so we can get done in December,” she said. “I think they come in once all the work has been done,” she said, including committee meetings. “I think it helps them if I give them a start on it all, so that’s why I intend to give them a plan. They can disagree with it … I want them to begin the debate early,” she said.
Today at 9:30 a.m., tune to TVW to watch Gov. Chris Gregoire hold a media availability on “next steps” in the budget. This comes a week after the state’s chief economic forecaster predicted the state will see about $1.4 billion less in revenue over the next two years.
Tune in today and read all about it right here.
Gov. Chris Gregoire just announced via press release that Carol Cockrill Albert will be her new director of external affairs, a post formerly held by Marty Loesch (who was bumped to chief of staff when Jay Manning left).
Albert has worked for a number of state and national campaigns over the past 20 years. She was on the Clinton-Gore transition team and lead Washington state’s efforts to elect Barack Obama.
Gregoire said Albert will be a perfect match for her “bold, aggressive agenda” for the next 17 months. (She’s already announced she won’t run for re-election.)
She begins work Aug. 8.
The Seattle Times is reporting that Congressman Jay Inslee will announce early next week that he’s running for Governor. You can read the full story, which was verified via someone with “direct knowledge” of Inslee’s plans, here.
Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, has already announced his candidacy. When Gov. Chris Gregoire announced she won’t run for a third term, she said she’s support Inslee’s bid for her job.
Today at 2:30, Gov. Chris Gregoire will hold another bill signing — at this one, she’ll be signing the budget.
TVW will be live with the action, and I’ll be blogging along right here. See you then!
Here’s the video of Gov. Chris Gregoire on her decision not to run for re-election — and a comment from Jay Inslee
Also: Congressman Jay Inslee told TVW today that he appreciates the governor’s service during the recession. As for whether he’s up for taking over the job: “Today is her day. I will make my intentions on the Governor’s race known shortly.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office just sent out notice that at 10 a.m., she’ll announce her “future plans.” The announcement will take place at the Governor’s mansion.
We’ll post updates as soon as we have more details!
TVW will be in the mansion taping the announcement and will get it online and on-air as soon as possible.
Update 2: Gov. Chris Gregoire, surrounded by family, announced that she will not seek re-election. She said for the next 18 months of her term, she’ll work hard to ensure the state gets out of the recession. After that, she has no plans — except maybe taking a break to get to spend some time with her family.
I’ll post the video here as soon as we have it up.
Attorney General Rob McKenna announced tonight that he’s officially entering the race for governor. During the announcement, at his former high school, McKenna told the crowd that he wanted to create a government that matches the state’s “spirit for innovation.”
McKenna said government has overpromised during good times, then had to make drastic cuts during hard times, according to a news release sent out by his campaign. He wants to turn that around by focusing on creating jobs, reforming state government and improving the state’s public schools.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Gregoire said recently that she’ll announce whether she’ll run again soon.
We’re still wrapping up legislative coverage — you can watch our one-hour Legislative Year in Review starting Friday evening — but campaign news is already coming fast and filing week starts in just a few days.
First, if you tuned into TVW’s Sine Die coverage last week, you learned that Sen. Phil Rockefeller will be leaving his seat to take a position on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (a position he was appointed to by Gov. Chris Gregoire). But you also learned that he’s recommending Rep. Christine Rolfes for his seat. She told the Bainbridge Island Review that she’s interested in the position. The Kitsap County Democratic Central Committee will choose three candidates and the county commissioners will make the choice.
And Denny Heck has decided to run for Congress again — in a yet undetermined district. As Brad Shannon reports, his Thurston County home could end up in a new 10th Congressional District that’s being hashed out now by the bipartisan Redistricting Commission. The Redistricting Commission is traveling the state holding public hearings now, which you can watch on TVW.
And former state Rep. Laura Ruderman has decided that if U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee runs for governor, she’ll run for his seat in Congress. You can read more about that on Jerry Cornfield’s blog here. Cornfield also notes that Rep. Marko Liias announced last month that he’s forming an exploratory committee to consider a run.
Now, what about Gov. Chris Gregoire? Will she be running for re-election in 2012? She said on Sine Die that she’s given it “absolutely zero” thought.
Gov. Chris Gregoire just held a press conference to discuss the end of the regular legislative session and the timing of the special session. She was joined by the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the House.
The governor said she will call lawmakers back in for a special session beginning Tuesday at 9 a.m., with the purpose of finding agreement on the two budgets (Operating and Capital) and passing the bills necessary to implement their plans.
“They have done it in a way that is responsive to the people of Washington,” said Gregoire. She said that in addition to the budget, they must act on workers’ compensation reform. “I congratulate them on the hard work they have invested thus far.”
“This legislature has come together and it has done so in the toughest of times,” said Gregoire.
Several of the proposals she made at the beginning of the session, she said, were met with bipartisan support and acted on immediately. For example, Gregoire said, lawmakers worked to get extend unemployment benefits, give injured workers better health care and pass the Launch Year Act.
The governor said the TransAlta bill showed the legislature’s commitment to the state’s environment and future.
She congratulated both the House and the Senate for passing the Transportation Budget earlier today.
Total bill count is down from the past, said Gregoire. By the end of the day she will have signed 161 bills. As tempting has it might have been, the governor said, they did not start new programs that demanded funding.