Wednesday morning's headlines

Dec 15, 2010

Governor to announce $5 billion budget cut plan, war claims a soldier from Yelm, and Seattle Center's big announcement today.

Flurry of Budget Cutting Plans

It's been a busy 24 hours for plans on closing the state's budget gap. Governor Chris Gregoire is expected to announce her ideas for slashing almost $5 billion this morning.  Among them: worker pay cuts, agency consolidations and mergers.

Gregoire and union state workers have a tentative agreement to cut pay by 3% each of the next two years.  Workers will pay more for health care premiums and take unpaid leave. 

The Seattle Times reports the deal affects 54,000 union workers:

Certain workers, including Washington State Patrol employees and those earning less than $30,000 a year, would not have to take the furloughs. The Governor's Office projects the move would save $269 million over two years, including about $176 million in the state general fund — the operating budget that pays for schools, social services, prisons and other programs.

Gregoire also wants to consolidate state agencies, and reduce the number of the boards and commissions, as KPLU's Austin Jenkins reports. The plans merge State Parks and the Department of Fish & Wildlife, and some of state business functions, according to The Olympian:

Gregoire wants many of those back-office, or “enterprise,” functions combined in a Department of Enterprise Services. The new agency would consolidate the departments of General Administration and Personnel and the State Printer, along with portions of the Department of Information Services and the governor’s budget office.

Some of the proposals will need the legislature's approval.


Yelm Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

One of the six soldiers killed by a suicide blast Sunday in Afghanistan was from Yelm. Cpl. Sean M. Collins, 25, was a 2004 graduate of Yelm High School. His mother, who teaches at a Yelm middle school, told the News Tribune:

“He always wanted to be in the Army since he was in kindergarten,” Linda Collins said Tuesday evening. “He wanted to be on the ground, up front.” Collins was the first service member with ties to the South Sound to die in Afghanistan in nearly five months.

Collins was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky., and had also served two deployments in Iraq.


Seattle Center 'Future' Announcement Today

KCPQ-TV reports the Seattle Center will make a major announcement today about plans for the future of the Fun Forest site:     

The two major proposals include a Dale Chihuly glass exhibit and a new, state of the art radio studio for KEXP.     

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is expected to announce the plans at 11 am. KPLU's Bellamy Pailthorp reported earlier this week the competing ideas for the public space. The Chihuly proposal got the nod among seven other ideas earlier this year from a review committee.