Gregoire petitions for speech writer amid hiring freeze - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Gregoire petitions for speech writer amid hiring freeze

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - A state-wide hiring freeze that ended on July 1 of this year did not hold Governor Gregoire back from petitioning for a new speech writer months before the freeze ended.
 
Governor Gregoire's office filed a "Request for Exemption From Statewide Hiring Freeze" on May 4, days after her previous speech writer left, citing the speech writer position as a 'critical position within the governor's office.' That request would later be approved on May 11 followed by the hiring of a new speech writer on July 14.
 
According to the waiver submitted to the State Office of Financial Management, the speech writer would be responsible for "basic information" and would prepare "talking points or speeches for the Governor."  The position also includes having to write "minor welcoming remarks to policy addresses" and will have to research "basic information" about events.

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Governor Gregoire addressing media on the day she received her flu shot in Spokane

 
The salary for the speech writer position is $65,496 per year and is just part of Governor Gregoire’s office budget - an estimated $3,685,602, which covers a staff of 55.
 
Gregoire's request for a waiver not only came during the hiring freeze that the Governor instituted herself, but also a time when the state is facing a budget gap of $2 billion through mid-2011.
 
Gov. Chris Gregoire and state lawmakers will have to fill the gap with spending cuts, tax increases or both.
 
When questioned about the decision to hire herself a speech writer, Gregoire responded that she needed the position, adding that she had already cut her staff by 10 percent - more than any other state agency.
 
Gregoire also commented on the economic outlook for the state in 2010, which she says does not look good. The Governor said Washington’s economic recovery is "U-shaped," meaning that the state may sit at the bottom for a while.
 
Gregoire proposes her budget in December, and the Legislature gets back to work in January.

While the hiring freeze ended July 1 when the new budget took effect, it was replaced by a hiring cap which allows state agencies to hire personnel if they do not exceed the budget cap.

- Bill McGinty
KHQ Local News

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