Sunday, January 16, 2011

Seattle Times | Frustrated Gregoire says 'status quo does not work'

Last week, Governor Christine Gregiore opened the Washington State Legislative Session for 2011 with her state of the State address. The speech included challenges to the legislature to be prepared to make fundamental changes to state government.

The governor has been giving interviews and proposals to prepare people for change as the state struggles with a $4.6 billion dollar hole in its 2011 - 2013 biennium, as well as almost a billion dollars in the current budget that ends June 30th.

When times were much better the state poured money into a variety of programs, as well as tax breaks to grow certain industries.
Gregoire says she doesn't have any choice given the budget gap and the reality that no more bailouts will be coming from Congress.

Surprisingly, though, Gregoire also seems unsure that the money she poured into education improved student achievement as much as she'd hoped.

"I came in here determined to make the system work better. To invest more money. I put a lot more money into K-12. But then you sit there and say, 'Why have I not been able to get the result I set out to achieve?' " she said.

Local News | Frustrated Gregoire says "status quo does not work" | Seattle Times Newspaper


Let's be clear about this, K-12 education support is a mandate in the Washington State Constitution (see here, ARTICLE IX EDUCATION). Gregiore's question has more to do with the system the state pumped money into than the amount of money. To be sure, if they state's educational system was in a position to produce a population of superior students but all it needed was money, then we would have seen a surge in standard test scores over the past few years. We didn't.
That is a fine example, and it is not the only one. Tax breaks are also investments in systems that made claims of being ready to produce exciting economic benefits and jobs, all we needed to do was either give a tax break, or increase taxes on somebody else, then we would see a surge in our economy over the past few years that were above standard. The unemployment rate in Washington State is remarkably similar to the rest of the nation.

Everything the state does in the public sector should be closely examined to ensure that our investments are beneficial.
Everything the state does for the private sector should be closely examined to ensure that our investments are beneficial.

As a result of these examinations and changes we will see county and city governments have to pick up some things that the state drops. The question is if the state will pass the means to stay in the business of health, safety, education, economic infrastructure investment.

The state has until April to figure it out.
Good luck.

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