At last night's Post-Election Analysis forum sponsored by Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Governor Chris Gregoire announced that, unlike last year, she expects there to be at least some new revenue to soften the expected cuts to balance the $2.6 budget deficit. Political operative Nigel Herbig tweeted this from the event:

At Kohl-Welles event, Gov. Gregoire stated that another cuts-only budget would not be acceptable.

This could be the first sign that the Democratic super majority could show some guts and raise revenue to balance the budget. They might not have a choice, since there is so little left to cut:

70% of the state budget is protected through constitutional, federal, contractual and other mandates, which means the Legislature would need to slash 27% from the remaining $9.6 billion in unprotected spending in order to achieve an all-cuts budget. I suppose that could be done, but only at the expense of great human suffering.

If the legislature leans on a cuts-heavy budget in 2010, General Assistance Unemployable (or GAU) could be toast. According to their website, GAU is described as a "state-funded program that provides cash and medical benefits for persons who are physically and/or mentally incapacitated and unemployable." Since GAU is only available for individuals who don't qualify for other government assistance, without GAU many of these people would be on the street. It survived elimination in last year's budget, largely because Speaker Frank Chopp defended the program.