State Budget Crisis
6:16 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Gregoire's budget cuts $4.6 billion, ends funding for state parks and Basic Health

Ten-dollar gate fees at state parks and 100,000 more Washingtonians without health insurance. Those are just two examples of how Governor Christine Gregoire proposes to close a $4.6 billion budget shortfall with her budget released Wednesday.

Gregoire says her budget uses the word “eliminate” – as in getting rid of an entire state program - more than 80 times.

And that only gets her $1 billion in savings. The gap she has to close is nearly five times that size.

Gregoire’s budget proposal for the next two years would end the state’s Basic Health Plan and Disability Lifeline Program, halt funding to state parks, and shutter the Tacoma and Spokane state history museums.

An emotional Gregoire said she “hates” her budget.

“I hate it because in some places I don’t even think it’s moral," she said.

"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."

But Gregoire says in her mind taxes are still off the table – even ones that would be sent to voters for approval.

Republican lawmakers praised the governor’s proposal as a step in the right direction.

Majority Democrats clearly still hope to find ways to avoid some of the most difficult cuts.