Thursday morning's headlines

Dec 16, 2010

The governor "hates" her own budget plan, education leaders don't like it either, and Tacoma prepares for potential closure of landmark museum, and a  tree 'grows' in White Center.

Gregoire "Hates" Her Budget

The governor laid out her plans to cut $4 billion and balance the state budget, then told reporters she "hates" what she's had to do.

She told KPLU's Austin Jenkins she's not even sure some proposals are "moral."

"Who’d ever thought I would be doing this. It’s just beyond me that I would be the one to do this. That we would find ourselves in this situation."

She went on to say the budget she's proposing, "doesn't represent my values," or the values of the state.

Her plan includes eliminating core programs like Basic Health for the state low-income, Disability Lifeline, which offers aid to the disabled poor, and social and health service reductions. One would de-fund interpreters who work in health care helping low-income, non-English speakers access care.

Gregoire's budget also eliminates state agencies, such as the Arts Commission and Tourism Office, and closes the state history museums.


Tacoma Braces for Budget's "Big Impact"

News of Gregoire's budget ricocheted through Tacoma, where the Washington State History Museum is an anchor of the city's Pacific Avenue redevelopment. The museum would take a hit of nearly $3 million, forcing it to close.  The News Tribune reports:

“It would be just another step backward for the city which seems to have taken quite a few of them lately,” said David Nicandri, director of the State Historical Society that runs the museum.

Modern Tacoma reached to its past in 1996 to develop the museum in the former Union Station. It became the foundation of the city's Museum District, with the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum nearby, as well as the burgeoning UW Tacoma campus. Retailers and businesses took up shop nearby. One of them told the Trib it would be a "big impact" on him, other retailers and downtown Tacoma.

The governor's budget leaves enough money to keep the closed facility 'secure,' including a research center in Tacoma's Stadium District, and the  State Capitol Museum in Olympia. The plan would shut the state history museum in Spokane, too.



Education Leaders Speak Out

Reaction to the Governor's budget came swiftly from education leaders, too. State Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn told the Associated Press:

“The past five days have been the worst for students in Washington state in the 30 years I’ve been in education. This budget isn’t all about numbers; it’s about kids. And once again, our kids got cut."

Tacoma Superintendent Art Jarvis says he's never seen a worse budget in his 46 years in the field. 

Gregoire's education cuts include money to reduce K-4 class size, funds to help gifted students, College-Bound scholarships, and the Washington Scholars Program, according to The Olympian:

Local teachers will see frozen salaries, elimination of stipends for rigorous state board certification and more...In her budget proposal, Gregoire said there also wouldn’t be any money available to start paying for education reform during the next two-year budget cycle.

The dire funding situation also delays education funding reforms. Those plans were moved forward by a ruling earlier this year from a King County judge that charged the state with not fully funding public education as the state constitution mandates.


Joy (and Community Building) Around a Tree

Amid the tough economic times, one King County neighborhood is using an old-fashioned way of boosting spirit and forging ties across its diverse communities: a neighborhood Christmas tree. It took the White Center Chamber of Commerce a year to make it happen.  The lighting ceremony was captured by videographer Cliff DesPeaux:

The White Center Now blog and West Seattle Blog report the effort was made possible with help from utility crews:

Seattle City Light (got) the area got connected earlier this week, which also makes lighting possible for the flag that flies over the triangle as part of a veterans’ memorial.