Gov. Gregoire says tax hikes needed - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Gov. Gregoire says tax hikes needed

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Chris Gregoire says higher taxes will be needed to pay for health care, education and welfare programs as the state tries to climb out of the long recession.
     

From the Office of the Governor...

>> Gov. Gregoire's Proposed 2010 Supplemental Budget

>> Frequently asked budget questions

Gregoire is presenting her plan for bridging the state's new $2.6 billion budget deficit Wednesday.

By law, she has to balance the budget using only existing revenue streams.
     
The plan calls for heavy spending cuts. Programs slated for elimination include the Basic Health Plan for the working poor and the General Assistance welfare program for people who can't work.

In education, funding would be eliminated for 1,500 3-year-olds participating in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program; the kindergarten-through-4th grade staffing enhancement that reduces class size in the early grades; and levy equalization, which provides extra support to districts with a lower than average property tax base.

Slated for reduction are the State Need Grant program, where 12,300 students would lose grants, and grants would be smaller ($146 million); and funding for the state's community and technical colleges as well as the baccalaureate institutions ($89 million).   

Washington State President Elson Floyd said Wednesday that the proposed budget would require the university to cut an additional $13.5 million on top of the $54 million in reductions already made, causing the university to make fundamental changes.

"Further reductions at the level outlined in this budget proposal will require our university to make fundamental changes in our structure, our programs and our operations," said Floyd.

According to Floyd, the proposal could "severely restrict access to WSU and other higher education institutions" due to the reduction in the State Need Grant Program.

Gregoire plans to ask the Legislature for tax increases early next year.

Gregoire addresses Washington residents below...

Gov. Gregoire wrote Washington Residents are living through the hardest times for the state in the last 80 years. What do you think? Leave your comments below.

Wednesday, Gregoire released a letter to Washington residents concerning her proposed budget. The following is a excerpt from that letter:

"Washingtonians are committed to increasing the achievement levels of our students in all our public schools. We are dedicated to expanding the economic vitality of business and individuals throughout the state and promoting better job prospects for all Washingtonians. Enhancing the value to all from our higher education system, continually improving the health of each and every one of us, especially our most vulnerable children and adults, and assuring public safety are key to all people in our state."

"Government at its core is about protecting the most vulnerable among us, keeping people and property safe, and building our future. Yet with a $2.6 billion shortfall, this financial plan eliminates or reduces many vital services, some to the bone. In other cases, programs are suspended that are crucial to many of our citizens and our quality of life."

"The decisions that produced this budget were very troubling to me. They do not represent sound public policy for our state, nor do they serve our citizens well. We cannot ride out this recession and come out ready to rebuild our economy on top of this budget."

To read the entire letter, click on the link to the right of this story.

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