Over the last few days we've been hearing some of the smaller ways that Governor Christine Gregoire plans to deal with our state's projected $4.6 billion funding shortfall over the next two years. Today comes the big picture.
"In any other time I would not sign this budget," Gregoire said in a statement. “It’s difficult to support something that goes against all we have accomplished over the past six years. But these are the circumstances we find ourselves in, and we have been left with few options.”
Here are the highlights, according to the governor's office:
• Elimination of the Basic Health Plan, which now offers subsidized health insurance to 66,000 low-income individuals. This saves $230 million in state funds and $117 million in federal funds.
• Elimination of the Disability Lifeline grant for the temporarily unemployable, which serves 28,000 individuals each month, and the Disability Lifeline Medical Program, which serves 21,000 clients each year who have a temporary disability and are unable to work. This saves $327 million.
• Suspension of the Student Achievement Program under Initiative 728, which provides smaller class sizes, extended learning time for students and professional development for teachers. This saves $860 million
• Suspension of employee salary increases under Initiative 732 for K-12 and higher education teachers and other employees. This saves $280 million.
• Elimination of K-4 class-size reduction funds provided to school districts that exceed the state’s basic education allocation. This saves $216 million.
• Reduction of 3 percent in compensation for state employees. This saves $176 million in state funds and $269 million in all funds.
• Elimination of state general fund dollars for State Parks. This saves $47 million.
• Closing McNeil Island Corrections Center by April 2011. This saves $17.6 million.