Washington state agencies propose more 'painful' program cuts

Sep 22, 2011

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington state agencies are putting entire programs on the chopping block – including $65 million from UW and WSU – to satisfy a request by the governor for more budget savings.

On Thursday, Governor Chris Gregoire notified state lawmakers that she will call them back to Olympia on November 28th for a special budget cutting session to make the cuts.

The list includes proposals once unthinkable in Olympia:

  • Eliminate prescription drug coverage for Medicaid recipients
  • Terminate Washington's Basic Health Plan
  • Slice four months off the sentences or more than 1,000 prisoners
  • Virtually eliminate all parole supervision of ex-cons
  • The Seattlepi.com reports that the University of Washington would cut $40.8 million from its budget and Washington State University $25.8 million. The schools say that move would mean thousands of students would have difficulty completing their coursework on time. The move would also most likely mean further, steep increases to tuition. The Legislature this year granted both schools complete independence to set their own rates.

Democratic Governor Chris Gregoire says she'll be selective in which of these agency-suggested cuts she forwards to lawmakers. But she warns the faltering economic recovery makes some combination of deep cuts "unavoidable."

"Our safety net is going to shred," Gregoire says. "We're going to have to turn to our faith community, who is coming to see me. We're going to have to turn to non-profits and volunteer organizations."

Some Democratic legislators want to consider new taxes or cancel business tax exemptions to soften the coming cuts. But legislative Republicans are adamant that any new taxes would hurt job creation.

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